August 11, 2008

Hong Kong residents are struggling to understand the finer points of dressage.

Horses are nearly always associated with racing in the Chinese territory, and the thousands of local residents who turned up for the weekend's three-day-event dressage struggled to grasp the significance of arena work.

The stands emptied out noticeably as the competition unfolded, perhaps fueled by equal measures of confusion and a desire to escape the sauna-like heat.

The South China Morning Post was not afraid to hint at dressage's limited appeal outside the sport, running a cartoon showing people sleeping and reading up on the sport's rules.

Equestrian Company Chief Executive Officer Lam Woon-kwong said there were 10,000-plus spectators for the opening of the equestrian competition, but he was diplomatic in his description of their interest in the sport.

Mr Lam said although some audience members are not so familiar with the sport, they were thrilled with the horses' movements - and the venue itself.

He believed spectators' interest will be heightened with the running of the cross country and the show jumping.

He advised spectators to bring along a radio with headphones, so they can listen to live commentary and truly appreciate the events.