Weather, logistics force cancellation of WEG dressage freestyle

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Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K were the first Irish combination in history to reach the final of the Freestyle to Music at a World Equestrian Games. © Erin Gilmore
Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K were the first Irish combination in history to reach the final of the Freestyle to Music at a World Equestrian Games. © Erin Gilmore

The popular freestyle dressage competition at the World Equestrian Games has been cancelled because of logistical problems. It was to have taken place on Sunday, but organisers chose to move it to Monday after extreme rainfall was forecast for the original 8.30am time slot.

But moving the event to the following day proved logistically impossible, Tryon 2018 Organising Committee President Michael Stone said, because the dressage horses had been due to fly out of the venue on Monday.

“Horse welfare has to be the top priority and flying the horses out on the same day as competition doesn’t work, so sadly the decision to cancel the Freestyle had to be taken,” Stone said.

“This was not an easy decision, but we have explored every option, including trying to reschedule the horse departures, and even looking at moving the competition into the indoor with a change of footing, but the logistics of making all this happen are just not possible.

“We know this is desperately disappointing for the 15 athletes who had qualified their horses for the Freestyle, and of course for all the spectators who had bought tickets, but the weather has simply left us with no choice. Horse welfare has to be the top priority and flying the horses out on the same day as competition doesn’t work, so sadly the decision to cancel the Freestyle had to be taken.”

Heavy rains and “catastrophic flooding” are occurring in parts of North Carolina, the National Weather Service said.

Germany’s Isabell Werth was a hot favourite to take out the gold medal, following her win in the Grand Prix special with Bella Rose.

The decision does not affect the Olympic qualification process, as this was completed on Thursday. The teams that have earned their ticket to Tokyo 2020 are Germany, USA, Great Britain, Sweden, Netherlands and Spain.

A separate notification will be sent to ticket holders.

The eventing competition has also been affected by weather forecasts, with Sunday’s final Jumping phase moving to Monday. The cross-country was unaffected, but the interval between horses will be reduced from four to three minutes. The cross-country distance is unchanged at 5,700 meters but there are modifications to two fences (23A and 24B).

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