WEG Is Just 100 Days Away...But First, Here Comes Aachen!

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German driver Christoph Sandmann seems pretty unflappable as his team of four dashes past. That's because he knows how precisely they can move between the cones, just as they did in 2006, when winning the Bronze Medal at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany. Christoph posed for this unusual photo as a promotion for the upcoming World Equestrian Festival in Aachen next month.

As we Americans start counting down the last 100 days to the start of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Christoph will tell you that's a long time. So much can happen to a competitor and his or her horse in 102 days. And he has to worry about keeping four horses safe and sound!

And a lot will happen to Christoph and dozens of the world's top equestrian athletes and their horses in July when they head back to Aachen for the World Equestrian Festival. This ten-day event will be the closest thing there is to a warm-up for the Games in the fall, and many nations' decisions on team selections will be based on performances and scores at Aachen in July.

Aachen is one of Europe's premier equestrian show venues, and the Festival, or CHIO, is possibly the only event that combines all the FEI disciplines, as well as many more horse-related events. American riders will be there, lured both by the prize money, and the prestige, and possibly by the desire to be seen by judges or officials who may be scoring them later in the summer or in Kentucky at WEG.

New stars for Kentucky will emerge at Aachen next month. Old heroes will hold onto their titles, too. But when Aachen ends, we'll have the first rough guesses at who really "has the stuff" to make it through the summer and show up in Lexington with a sound enough, fresh enough horse to finish the season on top of the world.

Photo: From the luscious 2010 CHIO Aachen Magazine, ??Holger Schupp used with permission.