August 11, 2008

A last-minute change to a fence on the Olympic cross-country in Hong Kong has left the designer annoyed and threatening not to work with the FEI in future.

The change was made to fence 18, the Stone Forest, after the course was inspected by FEI president Princess Haya. She requested that designer Mike Etherington-Smith move the boulders in front of the jump as she felt they could be dangerous if a horse got their footing wrong.


The Stone Forest jump.
The course had already been approved by the ground jury, but the change was made yesterday.

Etherington-Smith told the Times newspaper that it was "totally out of order for Princess Haya to intervene at that point".

"She was put up to it but it was not for her to make changes at that stage - it's a point of principle because it undermines the authority of the ground jury and the technical delegate," he told The Times. "I'm furious and if the FEI ask me in future to go on any of their advisory committees I shall refuse."

Princess Haya said that several team managers had approached her about the jump.