May 25, 2012
The Olympic Torch took a ride on a horse on its fifth day in Britain as it reached the famous Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire, southwest of London. A celebration at the racetrack included concerts, entertainment, and a ceremonial delivery of the torch to a stage by eventing champion Zara Phillips. Zara was mounted on her famous partner Toytown; the team were past winners of the World and European eventing championships. Zara dismounted at the stage and carried the torch to a celebration cauldron on stage; once lit, the flaming cauldron made the Olympic flame visible to the thousands of assembled celebrants. The torch will travel around Great Britain for 70 days until it reaches London for the opening ceremony. In addition to walkers and horses, the torch will be carried by bicycle, tram and steam-train. Zara Phillips is seeking a berth on Team GBR to ride at London on her new horse, High Kingdom. She missed out on a spot for the 2008 Beijing Olympics when Toytown was injured. Perhaps her last chance to impress the selection committee comes with her entry in the Equi-Trek Bramham Horse Trials (CCI***) in Yorkshire (June 7-10). Both of Phillips’ parents, Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, rode for Great Britain in eventing at the Olympics. A fly in Phillips’ ointment is that her trip north for Bramham means that she will miss the Queen’s Thames Diamond Jubilee celebration in London, a mile-long floating commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation. About 1000 sailing and power vessels are expected to float through London on the River Thames. Eventers have other plans; Bramham has doubled in entries since the cancellation of the Badminton and Chatsworth horse trials this spring, thanks to torrential rains that saturated the ground. The results from Bramham should help sort out several nations’ team prospects for London. Great Britain was to have announced its team last week, but postponed the final section until mid-June to include more results.
Fran Jurga is a freelance writer and editor from Gloucester, Massachusetts who has found success as a news commentator and blogger. Her blogs include The Jurga Report for EQUUS Magazine and War Horse News and the Steven Spielberg film. Fran is the founder of Hoofcare and Lameness Journal and writes a specialist Hoof Blog. You can follow Fran on Facebook and Twitter for more news about the horse world. In 2008, Fran wrote the WorldRides blog for the Hong Kong equestrian events of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the Discover WEG blog for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in 2010.