To paraphrase Star Trek’s Mr Spock, it’s horse trials, but not as we know it. Last week, aficionados used to Burghley or even muddy fields-braved the creaking Jubilee Line to visit Greenwich, the first Olympic venue to be tested for efficiency. Their attention was reserved less for the sour protest outside one placard had Greenwich-born Henry VIII exhorting ‘Get thee hence to Windsor (instead) Ye Dunderheads’ and more for the feat of logistics inside.
A space-age stable block ensured no equine pee saturated the ancient turf, the cross-country course was tidied away within hours, and Lord Coe’s hoped-for money shot for 2012-the illusion of a horse jumping onto Canary Wharf-made front-page news. Local children stared at dressage or moonwalking, as they called it-beside the Queen’s House, ran squealing behind horses splashing through their boating pond and collected autographs.
The Greenwich Tavern couldn’t believe its luck when thirsty riders and volunteers enjoying the novelty of being Olympic and city central, poured in, and many locals seemed both proud and curious (let’s hope they can get tickets). The protesters’ jibes about the expense are valid, but the ‘dunderheads’ didn’t do a bad job.
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