Olympic Riders Give Footing Rave Reviews

Like a sieve. That's how riders are describing the footing and underlying drainage system at the main competition arena at the Hong Kong Jockey Club's Sha Tin Racecourse. To handle the massive rains that inundate this part of the world on a regular basis--the latest typhoon was August 6, just two days before opening ceremonies, and the following morning saw three more inches of rain fall in just a couple of hours' time--surrounding the track area is a deep concrete channel that carries water away. Rainfall seeps through the ground beneath the track (arena) area and runs through "weep holes" into the channel.

Topping off this engineering is the widely praised arena surface designed by German footing expert Oliver Hoberg: a mixture of sand and imported textile fabrics laid atop mats that allow water to drain through.

"The footing is amazing," said 2004 U.S. Olympic dressage team bronze medalist Debbie McDonald, of Hailey, Idaho. "It's even better than Aachen (Germany), and Aachen is pretty wonderful. You can ride on it in the rain, after the rain, and there are no puddles. The drainage system is like nothing I've ever seen."

McDonald's teammate Steffen Peters, San Diego, Calif., agreed. "I'm very impressed with the footing," he said. "The typhoon came in around 2:30, and we were able to ride in the next five minutes."

Don't miss the Olympic Equestrian blog by award-winning equestrian journalist Jennifer Bryant. She will be giving us behind-the-scenes looks at what's happening at the Olympic equestrian events.

About the Author

Jennifer O. Bryant

Jennifer O. Bryant is editor-at-large of the U.S. Dressage Federation's magazine, USDF Connection. An independent writer and editor, Bryant contributes to many equestrian publications, has edited numerous books, and authored Olympic Equestrian, published by Eclipse Press and available at www.exclusivelyequine.com or by calling 800/582-5604. More information about Jennifer can be found on her site, www.jenniferbryant.net.

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