Friday September 7 2007
It's a hazy, warm, muggy Portuguese morning as the teams assemble with their horses for the vetting in for tomorrow's championship ride. The atmosphere (so far) seems to lack tension, and the vet check flows smoothly, with officials directing horse and groom traffic, taking the entries into the vetting area team by team. After they pass the vet check they are fitted with an electronic timer around their neck, and their numbers written on their butts with the grease pens. A few horses are wound up enough at the trot out they have to do it twice (or three times), but that's mostly because they've been separated from their buddies. The American horses look good and rested after their long journey.
The grounds don't look overcrowded; everything appears to be laid out here so that the crowds of people and assistance cars that must be around are artfully spread out and tucked away. I expect things will look much more crowded out on course tomorrow as we are following the road book with the other assistance and press cars tomorrow! Steph and I will go out later today and pre-drive some of the roads we'll be taking tomorrow. Directions and road numbers on maps and road signs aren't particularly intuitive here (but then, we could be just totally clueless, lost Americans, as Steph told the policeman who pulled us over last night as we took another wrong exit off a highway) and it will help to know some of our course ahead of time!
People here have a little time before the 3:30 PM press conference to visit, get reacquainted and try to remember where in the world you last met, and grab chairs under the shade. Throngs of press follow some of the princes around like movie stars. The Marylot tack shop, who made a 3-day journey from Holland to get here, appears to be doing a booming business. As does the little mini-bar!
A breeze is picking up, which it has done after noon the last few days, which, if it happens tomorrow, will help the horses during the hottest part of the day.