An impressive 120 riders from 26 countries are expected to contest the Open European EnduranceChampionships, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free, which run from 22-30 September.
On paper, it looks a very strong championship with several top-ranking teams in contention. These include France, the most successful team since the championships’ began in 1987; the UAE, winner of the last Open title, and Portugal, the reigning European Champion.
In the individual classification, competition will be fierce. America’s Valerie Kanavy, multiple world gold-medallist, and Australia’s top rider Meg Wade both hold strong hands. But the favorite must be HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum.
Sheikh Hamdan, recent winner of the World Junior and Young Riders Endurance Championships, is expected to ride Dynamic. The brilliant French horse was second in last year’s World Championships, won the French Championships this year and in 2000, when ridden by Cecile Miletto. Dynamic has remained in training with Miletto since he was purchased by Sheikh Mohammed earlier this year.
The venue for the championships, Castiglione del Lago in Perugia, is a beautiful and historic area of Italy. The 160km ride, originally planed with five phases, has been changed to six loops of 38-, 36-, 20-, 26-, 20- and 20km. All return to a central vet check situatedat the old airfield of Castiglione.
The trail passes through olive groves and vineyards. There is a lot of hard and sometimes stoney going, while the twisting tracks through the woodland are more forgiving sand.
No effort has been spared by the organising committee, headed by endurance rider Gianluca Laliscia, to provide top-class facilities for competitors and spectators. This will be a showpiece of endurance riding in line with Olympic standards.
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