Time Out has the news and pictures as Olympic horses return home with Emirates. Discover how the world's best airline transports the horses on board
The Olympic gold medal-winning horses have returned to their home soils, travelling in style with Dubai-based airline Emirates.
Emirates was named the world’s top airline last month, and nothing but the best is good enough for the world’s premier competition horses: these equine athletes got the celebrity treatment.
Dressage gold medallist Valegro (who was ridden at the Games by Britain's Charlotte Dujardin) returned to the UK last week, while the showjumping victor Big Star (who was ridden by 58-year-old Brit Nick Skelton, Rio's oldest medallist) flew home on August 21.
Both horses, and all the other Olympic equine stars, got the first class treatment they deserved from Emirates. All the horses travelled in specially designed stalls and customised pallets for the flights.
Spencer Wilton, from the British dressage team, told Time Out Dubai his silver medal-winning horse Super Nova had a smooth trip, saying: "The horses travelled in the equine version of business class with Emirates. They arrived as if they had travelled just an hour down the road."
Thirty four horses from ten nation travelled to and from Brazil for the Games, costing a cool Dhs82,000 for the round trip, funded by the Rio organising committee. The precious cargo on each flight weighed in at around 17,500kg, travelling in a SkyCargo Boeing 777-F.
Jock Paget, a member of the New Zealand eventing team who is based in the UK, said his horse Clifton Lush travelled well, and praised the flight near on 12-hour flight back home.
"He was the last on and this means he was first off, which means he spent minimum of time on the plane,” Jock told Time Out Dubai. “It was a very smooth trip, the whole team, both humans and horses, travelled well."
The multi-million pound cargo travel with professional grooms and vets on board, to ensure there are no in-flight issues. Each horse will drink around 40 litres of water on the flight, as keeping them hydrated is essential.
Most top competition horses are frequent fliers and rack up the air miles travelling around the globe, and although horses can suffer from jetlag, they recover quickly.
Nathan Anthony, team vet for the Australian Eventing squad, who flew with the country’s horses, said: “Flying is actually easier on the horses than going by truck. The only slightly difficult bit is the take-off, after that there are no bumps in the air.”