US News Equestrian sport continues despite herpes horror: dead horses here, prize money millions there

17:05  05 march  2021
17:05  05 march  2021 Source:   tagesspiegel.de

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While horses in Spain have died in agony from the herpes virus, the Global Champions Tour of the show jumping riders in Qatar begins at the same time.

In Katar geht es um viel Preisgeld, in Europa um das Leben der Pferde. © Photo: Imago In Qatar there is a lot of prize money, in Europe it is about the life of the horses.

The disturbing images of horses dying in agony in Valencia were also seen by the riders in Doha. Many watched the videos of carcasses being removed by wheel loaders on their cell phones. But despite the herpes horror , despite two horses tested positive on site and the fear of infection, is ridden in the capital of Qatar. The first stage of the highest endowed series in equestrian sport runs until Saturday under increased safety and hygiene conditions.

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The veterinary director of the World Federation FEI tries to calm down. "Of course there is no such thing as zero risk, but the horses competing in Doha are not at greater risk of infection than at any other event," said Göran Akerström. “From an epidemiological point of view, the risk of further cases in other horses in Doha is negligible due to the biosecurity measures already taken and the additional requirements.”

Most of the riders you talk to seem a bit queasy. They are like national coach Otto Becker. "The pictures from Valencia are really terrible," said Becker, who is in close contact with his riders in Qatar and Spain. “That's really bad, I couldn't watch some videos to the end.”

The equestrian professionals in Doha, caught in the situation between corona and herpes, go about their work on the Global Champions Tour. After the many tournaments and thus lost earnings due to the pandemic, they have to earn money. They have been in Doha since February 20 because of the quarantine regulations and rode their first tournament last weekend. The first tournament of the Global Champions Tour has been running since Thursday.

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How big the loss has been so far can be guessed by looking at the prize money of the series. After the Corona-Aus 2020, 25.9 million euros are to be distributed this season. “The Global Tour is extremely important to us. We are very, very happy that we can go to tournaments again and the series begins, ”said the world-class show jumper Christian Ahlmann at the beginning of the week - and carefully pushed afterwards:“ I hope it stays that way. ”

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It did not stay that way. A few hours later, shortly before midnight, the world association banned tournaments in ten European countries. Before the dimension of the herpes infections became clear at the tournament in Valencia, the situation for many riders was already tense and uncertain. Now it's getting dramatic. Some fear for their existence.

“The series is an extremely important factor for us,” said Marcus Ehning. The prize money of the failed season “was clearly missing”, explained the three-time World Cup winner from Borken. So far, two of the 16 planned stations in the series have been postponed due to the effects of the corona pandemic, including the Hamburg derby, which was moved to August. Now comes herpes.

The Global Champions Tour is to continue after Doha, where the Grand Prix is ​​on the program on Saturday, with the second stage on May 21 in Madrid. So in the capital of the country where the aggressive variant of herpes originated. (dpa)

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