Due to soaring temperatures organisers of the Australian International Three-Day Event in Adelaide have significantly reduced the length of Saturday's cross-country course in the best interest of the horses.
While temperatures for Saturday are tipped to reach 34 degrees - a temperature still considered comfortable for both horses and riders in dry heat - the decision to alter the course was made in the event that temperatures climbed even higher.
"This is still an exciting and challenging course being tackled by some of horse riding's biggest stars," Chair Bob Gillen says. "Instead of taking about 11 minutes to complete the course, it will now take about eight minutes and there are some terrific vantage points both in Rymill Park and other sections of the parklands where shade is plentiful."
The decision - which impacts on all event classes - was made this morning at a meeting of organisers and officials, including veterinarians and members of equestrian's world body, the FEI.
The course still meets all FEI regulations and acts as a qualifier for World Championships and the 2012 Olympics. The decision was based on data collected at both the Atlanta and Beijing Olympics where horses had to face humidity as well as heat, considered more difficult to deal with than Adelaide's dry temperatures which allow horses to sweat and then cool.
The Australian International Three-Day Event - the Southern Hemisphere's most important Equestrian event - is expected to attract up to 30,000 people with dressage beginning this Friday, 13 November, Cross-Country action on Saturday and the event concludes with the Show Jumping on Sunday.
The event plays host to New Zealand's finest horse and rider combinations who will compete against the Aussies for the hotly contested Trans-Tasman Challenge. Won by the Kiwis when last contested in New Zealand in 2007; the Australians will be out to snatch the title back. The Australian Team will be announced on Thursday afternoon. The Aussie squad is strong including Olympic gold medalists Wendy Schaeffer and Stuart Tinney, 2008 Olympic silver medalists Shane Rose, Megan Jones and Sonja Johnson, 2008 World Cup competitor Kevin McNab and defending champion in the four-star class Christopher Burton. Blair Richardson, Clarke Johnson, Heelan Tompkins and Jenna Mahoney have been selected to ride for the Kiwis.
More than 110 riders have entered the event, up from 80 riders who competed last year.
Spectacular show jumping, a challenging cross-country course and tests of elegance and precision in the dressage arena are features of the Adelaide event, one of only six four-star events in the world.
For more information visit www.australian3de.com.au or www.venuetix.com.au