Sport

Five-star hotel treatment for Olympic horses

Friday, July 27, 2012    

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LONDON, England (AFP) — London has many fine hotels, but few can match the five-star quality being offered to its well-hooved guests at Greenwich Park during the Olympic Games.

With its stunning location on a World Heritage Site, Greenwich Park offers its 145 visitors from all four corners of the globe accommodation fit for a king or queen.

Round-the-clock room service is tailored to cater for every individual whim, with emphasis on comfort and security.

And most importantly of all, there's a constant supply of tasty fresh carrots.

Manager of the Olympic Game's equine stable is the appropriately named Nigel Trott, who with his deputy Billy Elliot is responsible for the well being of the four-legged stars during the Games.

They're a demanding bunch, with Trott and Elliott inundated with special requests from end of block 'rooms' for those with a nervous disposition to sniffer boards to dissuade stallions with more than a good night's sleep on their minds getting too close and personal with their neighbours.

Team GB's chef d'equipe Yogi Breisner gave the luxury hotel the thumbs up yesterday.

"The stabling area is very very good, our horses have really settled in and chilled out nicely."

British eventer Tina Cook confirmed: "There's been no grumbling from our horses."

Her teammate Nicola Wilson added: "All our horses are relaxed and happy."

Elliott is an experienced hand when it comes to running a high-quality horse-telry with more than 10 years experience in stable management under his belt and 14 years in the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery.

"It is our aim to look after the horses and the grooms in a relaxed, quiet environment," he told the Games' official website, ruling out any late night hooves-up under his watch.

He added: "If they are happy, the riders are happy, the crowds are happy and then the event is a success."

Before setting off for London each team supplied its individual requests for horses' bedding and feed.

Horses, or at least their riders, had the choice between dust-free shavings or straw — up to 10 bales of shavings are used for the basic bed, with an extra bale added each day.

In total, London 2012 organisers have brought in 3,000 bales of shavings and 500 of straw for the equestrian events which start here on Saturday.

Keeping their guests from going hungry is another major task for Trott and Elliott.

There are 22 tonnes of hay on hand, not any old hay though, with three choices on the menu: British meadow hay, American Timothy hay and American alfafa hay.

And then there are the carrots — each horse will munch his or her way through up to two kilos a day.

With London bathed in sunshine this week it is imperative guests don't get too hot under their collars before stepping out into the Greenwich arena, and to this end cooling fans ensure the stables remain at ideal temperatures.

There is even the equivalent of a beauty salon in the guise of a state of the art forge, and guests don't need to worry about doing their own washing as an equine laundry is on hand.

On the matter of manure, that is deposited into wheelie bins which are removed daily to prevent contamination.

Jamaica's Samatha Albert will compete in equestion at the London Olympics.

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