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Summer Time, but the Living Ain't Easy...

Lucerne, Switzerland –June 1, 2006 - There's no escaping the anxiety ahead of tomorrow's Samsung Super League with FEI clash in Lucerne, Switzerland. Bad ground, a forecast for more heavy rain and a day of discomfort and drama have all combined to leave nerves jingling and hearts feeling a little heavy. The arena cut up badly during today's classes, with horses finding it difficult to get a grip on the slippery going and often sliding uncontrollably into fences - far from ideal preparation ahead of a very big day's sport.

Summer has returned to winter in this part of Europe, and for the riders and horses who competed in the blazing heat at Rome last weekend it's quite a shock. It is really cold so the equines are rugged up snugly again, but their minders, helpers and friends who have arrived unprepared are madly shopping for winter woolies in the busy centre of this lovely city that sits at the north end of Lake Lucerne. Renowned for its beauty, Lucerne, with its trademark 14th century wooden bridge and tower, its fortress walls, wonderful architecture and its spectacular white castle that overlooks the town and lake, is filled with a very unique charm. Tonight however, many international show jumpers have other things on their minds.

Some of the team managers had planned to make some serious decisions about their candidates for the World Equestrian Games following this event. But it will be difficult to make a true assessment of any partnership in these conditions. Luck will probably play an even greater role than usual in deciding how things turn out tomorrow afternoon. When horses leave the secure footing of the sand warm-up ring to go onto grass going that is deep and unforgiving then confidence may be a problem. Ride strongly and front rails will probably fall, hold back and those back rails will seem a very long way off. So difficult to gauge, and everyone wanting to ensure their horses stay sound and well ahead of the remainder of this summer's challenge.

But it is the same for everyone and the team managers tried to put the best possible slant on it during this evening's draw and press conference. With Margie Engle still suffering the after-effects of her punishing fall in Aachen the US team remains unchanged. The all-girl crew of Molly Ashe, Candice King, Laura Kraut and Christine McCrea will fly the stars and stripes and they will be wanting to bring those horses home unscathed. This will not be a day for risk-taking and George Morris may be content to settle for less than top of the order this time around, leaving German Chef d'Equipe and his "weapons of mass destruction" as the US show jumping legend described the German squad, to their own devices.

PHOTO CREDIT: French rider Philippe Leoni and Cyrenaika have trouble with the heavy going at Lucerne, Switzerland ©2006 Erin Cowgill


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