Equestrianism: Horses face Olympic heat

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Hong Kong, which will be the venue for equestrian events during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, could produce even worse climatic conditions than those experienced in Atlanta in 1996.

This was the view expressed by Dr David Marlin at the annual seminar of the International League for the Protection of Horses (IPLA) here yesterday. It would not, he felt, have been possible to run the cross-country phase of the Olympic Three-Day Event there had it been under the traditional long format that included the steeplechase and two sections of roads and tracks.

Marlin, who played a vital role in studies into the effects of heat and humidity in horses prior to Atlanta, nevertheless believes that horses will be able to cope with the Hong Kong climate.

"The International Equestrian Federation [FEI] is much better prepared than they were for Atlanta," he said. Under the new formatit should be possible to run the event without undue stress on the horses, the FEI claims.

Two climate stations were set up in Hong Kong this year - one at the Sha Tin Racecourse where the main arena will be sited and the other at the cross-country venue at Beas River. These will continue to monitor conditions over the next two summers, specifically in August, which is when the 2008 Games take place.