I’ve always hated Wednesday, even though it has the cutest nickname of all the days of the week. I know ‘hump day’ is meant to say, ‘Hey! We’re half way there!’ But to me it has always meant ‘we’re only half way there.’ My aversion to Wednesday hasn’t made sense for years because I work most weekends anyway, but I still hate that day of the week. I hate it so much that I didn’t even post this yesterday because I was in a hump day slump.
There’s been a lot of news this week – some of it good, some of it bad and some of it downright weird. In good news, we have learned that Canada’s Eventing Team has a couple of potential new faces in Peter Barry on Kilrodan Abbott and Jessica Hampf on High Society III, both of whom finished in the top 20 at Rolex last weekend – and it was one of the toughest Rolex Kentuckys on record, with fewer than half the starters completing the competition. Now, I can’t give you a link to an EC press release because none exists (technically that’s bad news but the gravitational pull of the good news is strong enough to keep the whole story in the ‘good news’ category), but I can give you a link to the Rolex results so you can see how fine Peter’s and Jessica’s performances were. I also recommend a visit to EventingNation.com. John may be American but he’s by far the biggest promoter of our Canadian eventers.
In other good news, and this time it does come from our national federation, EC has sent out an online survey that encourages members to give feedback on a few high flying notions, such as mission statement and strategic priorities. I took the survey on the weekend, and I strongly encourage all caring Canadian Equestrians to spend the few minutes it takes to choose an answer from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree and participate in the survey. Resist the temptation to let cynicism or apathy dictate your actions. A survey is a sign of at least one democratic thought process in someone’s mind, so please nurture it with your input.
On the bad news front, I’ve just had word that the FEI has decided in favour of Brazil in the Dominican Republic protest against Brazil’s Olympic qualifiers. The FEI has not put the decision up on its site yet, and I rather doubt they will draw unwanted attention to the matter by issuing a press release, but I plan to keep tabs on this story, which is far from over. Once again, this is an instance of an organization applying ‘rule of law’ (and legal loopholes where rule of law doesn’t work) in place of more philosophical principles, such as morality or adherence to its own principles of promoting ‘fair play’.
A few weeks ago I was perusing the notes from the FEI Dressage Committee’s March 26th meeting, which the IDRC posted on their site, where I found something very interesting buried among the championship allocations and discussions about tight nosebands. It was in the section titled ‘Olympic Qualification Period 2012 – experiences’. Here is the innocuous little sentence that caught my eye: ‘Two problematic issues were new events appearing in the middle of the season, often made to suit the needs of a few riders, with so far no rule to stop this.’ That’s food for thought, isn’t it? While the FEI legal department rips through a legitimate protest about Olympic qualifications, using testimony from members of the FEI Dressage Committee, those same committee members discuss a ‘problem’ that has a rather thick strand of string connecting it directly to the protest that was shot down like a clay pigeon. I’m starting to get the feeling that most of the cubicles (or windowed corner offices) at FEI HQ are peopled by lawyers and not by individuals who give a rat’s ass about the sport or genuinely respect the athletes without whom there would be no need for an FEI.
Lest you think I’m taking one athlete’s side over another’s in the Dominican vs. Brazil/FEI dispute, I believe it does a disservice to ALL athletes from all countries as well as to the sport to unevenly spread cream cheese icing on the cake, then give some countries the piece with the thickest layer.
And finally, two entries in ‘weird news’ for this week. The first comes from the afore-mentioned international sport organization, with an announcement that Saudi Arabia is going to save the Nations’ Cup. To be specific, the press release shares the joyous news that the Saudis are funding a ‘financial face lift’ of the NC series. I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard of a bailout described as a ‘face lift’. But actually, the euphemistic use of a plastic surgery term was not what gave me pause when I saw the release. What first came to my mind was the fact that the names of two Saudi show jumpers - Abdullah Waleed Sharbatly and Khaled AbdulazizAl Eid – are on the list of ongoing doping cases with the FEI. Both of their horses tested positive for the same two forms of bute at CSIs in the past few months. I think I’ll be keeping a close eye on that list over the next three months, not to mention on the list of Saudi team members in London.
Our other piece of weird news is actually a week old, and it comes from that good ol’ down-home endless source of blog material, EC’s communications department. Even though the horses and riders were already in Europe competing, EC sent out an announcement of the Canadian Show Jumping Team named for a pre-Olympic European Tour, reaffirming EC’s belief in ‘better late than never’. But what makes this release so fascinating is that it inadvertently reveals that Ian Millar’s horse Star Power has – perhaps while spending the winter in the World Anti-Aging capital, Wellington – discovered the secret of anti-aging. According to the press release, Star Power is nine years old. Since he was ten years old when he so ably lived up to his name in Guadalajara last fall, the only explanation is that Star Power has so successfully applied anti-aging therapies he is actually getting younger. If this keeps up, Ian will have to rename him Benjamin Button. Or Mork from Ork. Or Joan Rivers.