Fice young riders, including three of the front runners, were disqualified for beating their horses during an endurance race in Abu Dhabi on 30 January.
Officials were warned by the FEI at the start of the winter season “not to turn a blind eye”, though this is the first time abuse has been been punished on this scale at a single ride.
One horse was owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s premier MRM stables.
A Catastrophic Injury (CI) — meaning vets recommend euthanasia — was also recorded during the Sheik Zayed Al Nayhan Junior and Young Riders Cup at Al Wathba. Ainhoa Catharissime is the 10th CI officially recorded this season, though some fatalities have later been advised as “mistakes” and amended to Irregular Gait.
A seven-minute, edited video of the closing stages posted by YAS shows the riders illegally using their extra-long reins as whips, as well as tiring horses being harassed by the accompanying motorcade.
In the lead, the grey Splendacrest Adage drops to a trot despite the vigorous efforts of his rider, and several grooms run onto the field of play and strike him. He can be seen later, moving slowly and hanging to the running rail.
The equally struggling Kalharabi Habana then edges ahead and is also hit. The next horse home, Pintoresco, was the third of the five disqualified.
Adage was bred in Australia by Jay Randle, the former trainer of Splitters Creek Bundy, the horse whose double fracture at Al Wathba last year caused global outrage.
Jay sold Adage domestically — but then he was sold on to MRM. She told H&H she was “sickened” by the video.
At the time of going to press, H&H had been unable to confirm if sanctions had also been handed down the grooms involved in unauthorised assistance.