Dubai’s hosting of the World Endurance Championship in December looks once again in doubt after the FEI disaffiliated last weekend’s test event at short notice.

The Crown Prince Dubai Cup went ahead on 19 March under national rules at Sheikh Mohammed’s Dubai International Endurance City (DIEC) instead. However as riders from more than four visiting countries took part, this placed the ride in breach of FEI rules for national competitions (CEN rules).

Matters came to a head on 18 March when FEI endurance director Manuel Bandeira de Mello raised a number of issues before the pre-ride inspection, including wanting to change the heart-rate parameter of the final loop.

Under the current Emirates Equestrian Federation (EEF) rules, which were put in place in response to recent welfare issues at rides in a UAE, the final-loop heart-rate parameter is 60bpm.

Earlier, the FEI had been lobbied by 27 foreign nationals to increase the heart-rate level as the visitors had not had sufficient time to acclimatise their horses to the conditions, in a petition started by Russian rider Maria Kuznetsova.

H&H understands Mr de Mello wanted the final loop heart rate changed to 56bpm, forcing riders to slow down and give their horses more time to recover, but was denied access to Sheikh Mohammed to discuss the matter.

It is also understood the EEF paid compensation of about £5,000 to each of the visitors who expected to compete in a CEI. The FEI was unable to confirm whether the World Championships would go ahead in Dubai, or whether or not another test event would be scheduled as H&H went to press.

H&H 24 March 2016