Rodrigo Pessoa and Lucinda Green Join WEG 2018 Critics

Rodrigo Pessoa
Credit : Scoopdyga

Monday 01 October - 02h25 | Lulu Kyriacou

Rodrigo Pessoa and Lucinda Green Join WEG 2018 Critics

Rodrigo Pessoa and Lucinda Green have joined in the criticism of the recent World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Tryon, USA during a Facebook  Live video organised by American based British journalist Chris Stafford on Sunday night.  

"Just another horse show....."

Pessoa is the Chef d'Equipe and team trainer for the Irish showjumping team  and Lucinda Green is an eventing legend  who won Badminton six times and the World Championship at Lexington in 1982.  Both joined the broadcast  reviewing WEG live  to answer Stafford's questions (Full video at bottom of article). 
It was Pessoa, a former world champion himself, who was the first to speak and his comments backed  up those already made by Canada's Eric Lamaze a few days ago. "Everything that was there already was fine. The stabling and the arenas  for example. I am of course only talking about the showjumping as I did not see any of the other disciplines. The rest was not OK. It is hard enough to do this with the full time (four years between editions-Ed) but in 18 months it is not do-able."

"The communications between us and the organisers was fine, but it should be, this is just another horse show. People are there in the office to give you information and that was fine.  But it was not fine that there was no where to eat  near the stables and that the trash was not picked up and there parking was far away, that the hotel was 40 minutes away.  All of these things were not up  to standard.  The athletes and the horses, they did their job, performed well and the spectacle was there.   But the administration bit and the FEI bit,  that was not acceptable.  In the end the administration  took the bid, they knew the time frame, so you have to deliver, they have to do their part. And the FEI are also partly to blame,  they award the Games.  But what this has proved, once again, is that whether you have a four year lead up of 18 months, it is just not possible. Why continue in this format instead of separate championships. Then you would have handfuls of bids. Now I want to see who will bid for the next WEG,  that will be interesting. I want to see who will be the nest one to put their name down, I am curious"

Stafford then asked Pessoa if he thought the riders could or should have more to do with the decisions of how and where WEG is held and whterh is sustainable at all, but Pessoa was dismissive of this. "The riders try,  we have already told them but we always  get the same response. That we don't know and do not understand, so they (The FEI)  will have to find out for themselves that it is not do-able."

The Brazilian was then asked if the team officials had made any comments  about the  facilities (or lack of them) at the time and again Pessoa was dismissive. "When we are there, we have a job to do and we are busy. We are not there to check out where the hotels are and if the trash has been collected.  We focus  on doing our job. But next week in Barcelona, there is a jumping committee meeting (FEI Committee at the Nations Cup Final-Ed) and Cian O'Connor has a list of things to say and he will not be the only one, so for sure over the next few weeks it is all going to come out and these things can be addressed.  The sport was good with good winners and great drama in the showjumping (I didn't see the other disciplines)  but that was down to the athletes and the horses, and it was the only good thing."


Eventing legend Lucinda Green joins broadcast

Eventing legend Lucinda Green joins broadcast - Rodrigo Pessoa and Lucinda Green Join WEG 2018 Critics

Lucinda Green
Credit : Scoopdyga

Lucinda Green  first reminded  everyone that she was not at WEG in person but thought  the result was good and the competition in eventing was exciting but 18 combinations  round clear and inside the time were too many.  She felt that this would lead to the competition becoming more like a dressage and showjumping  combined training with the cross country more of an exhibition  round than having any real bearing on the result. "Possibly  the fact that there are many 4* horses competing at 3* level is what influenced that number," continued Green, "and to stop them you would have to build something twisty and tricky which no one wants, but the fact is 3* is way too easy  to test the world's best event riders. I was no there so I cannot really comment on this course as you have to see it,  but I picked up live comments from four or five people who were there and who I really respect, and they all said it was too easy."

Green also mentioned the fact that course designer Captain Mark Phillips had changed one fence slightly after much social media comment that the single rail without a ground line was unsafe. Green thought the fence was more difficult but not unfair and in its original state would just have required a little more care to jump it safely. "My fear is, that if we keep the cross country as straight forward as this people will major in dressage and showjumping and the cross country  will become more of an exhibition that anyone within reason can do. There was some very good riding  but  course also allowed you to get away with a lot which of course is key to stopping horses falling but on the other hand, the cross country is what the sport is all about. "

Backing up of the words of Pessoa, Green was also in favour of splitting the Games. "I do love the concept of the Games,  and I have been to several and really enjoyed seeing other disciplines. Especially at Aachen which is amazing.  But I am not sure it is financially sustainable, although I do not have the figures to really comment. I think it needs to be in a permanent base, it might not be such a financial drain."

And finally a word on why Tryon was not ready on time...

Going back to the much mooted time frame for organising the Games,  American journalist Amber Heintzberger made a very interesting comment during the debate. She said, "I think they were really lucky that the hurricane kept people away because they were not prepared for the crowds they originally anticipated.  I was there in July and was surprised by the lack of progress since my previous visit. They had ample time to prepare, but chose to run horse shows all summer, delaying construction. That said, I enjoyed the weekend that I was able to attend the eventing championship."   Tyron has entirely blamed unseasonal rain for the non-finished facilities, but this comment indicates there were other avoidable factors that influenced the delay.

Further reading...