You’d think that in the world’s most populous country – one with an ‘authoritarian regime’ no less – they could compell some bums into seats, even if it IS to watch third rate show jumping. You’d also think there would be at least one photographer on hand who understands that nose-first is not the most flattering perspective from which to shoot a subject (I’m talking about the horse!). I can count without using fingers or pencil and paper the number of people in that section of the Bird’s Nest in Peking Beijing. Estimating we are seeing about a fifth of the place and assuming there is a similar ‘crowd’ scattered around the 80,000 seats, that brings the audience for the Longines Beijing Masters to a whopping 60 people, or about 0.075% of capacity. Oh, sure the press release said 10,000 were in attendance, and the absence of fences in the ring would suggest an after-thought kind of photo shoot of Laura and her homely mount, but I’ve WRITTEN press releases and I know the numbers are always exaggerated by more than a smidge. Nice looking footing, though.

So show jumping hasn’t quite caught on in China. I’m just trying to imagine how much money was squandered (no, I do not think that is too strong a word) for this shindig. What kind of rent must they charge at the Bird’s Nest, for instance? And how about all those first class flights for the riders, not to mention the ‘incentives’ they must have received in return for showing up at the (nearly empty) stadium?  And how about the course design fees for Frank Rothenberger? Given the likely caliber of the borrowed horses, having him design the course is a bit like having Mario Batali cook dinner for a toddler.

In more relevant news, we have Rolex AND the World Cup to look forward to this weekend, both of which will be live streamed online.  Notice what I called North America’s only four star three day event? Thank goodness Rolex is more loyal to its relationships than some of its former partners in sport…

One of the bloggers at EventingNation has posted a hilarious set of tips on how to entertain your husband at Rolex. I encourage you to click here and have a good belly laugh at it like I did.

And finally, one more bit of nonrequired reading before I sign off for today. An intrepid colleague in the UK was thoughtful enough to forward me a link to a news story from the BBC this morning regarding what has been called ‘one of the biggest doping scandals in British racing history.’ Involved is an ignoble fellow who goes by the vowel-rich name Mahmood Al Zarooni, and who for the past three years was in the employ of none other than our Good Sheikh Mohammed, aka HRH’s husband.  Turns out Al Zarooni didn’t see any harm in slipping a few anabolic steroids into the bloodstreams of 11 racehorses at Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Stables.  Al Zarooni of course pleads innocence, arguing that because the horses were not racing at the time, he didn’t know they weren’t allowed those kinds of treats. Sure.