Two horses have been put down following the international 90km endurance ride in Fontainebleau, France, on Saturday 15 October.
The fatal injuries were confirmed in a brief statement issued by the ride organisers, and the notation CI – which stands for catastrophic injury – promptly appeared against the horses’ names in the live results.
Experienced French rider Andre Coriou, 55, was riding six-year-old Ariane d’Oudaires when the horse fell during loop three. It is not yet clear whether the horse’s fatal fracture was the cause or result of the fall.
The second fracture was sustained by Castlebar Contraband, ridden by Sheikh Abdul Al Qasimi, 28, a member of one of the ruling families in the UAE. The Qasimis’ long-term trainer Anzac Mehmood posted on Facebook that he did not see the accident in person, but visited the site later and thought Contraband had probably tripped on a stone.
Under FEI rules, both horses must undergo an autopsy, although the results will only be released to the horse’s owner and to its national federation for legal reasons.
Fontainebleau, situated in the forests south of Paris, is one of France’s most popular multi-discipline venues and hosted the 2009 European Eventing Championships. Saturday’s fatalities will be a particular blow for its endurance organisers, because a horse was also put down on the opening weekend of their 2016 season in April.
On that occasion an Omani rider, who had borrowed a French horse for the day, dismounted to check his slipping saddle when his horse escaped onto the nearby auto route, getting stuck between the concrete crash barriers in the middle of the road. The horse had to be put down as a result of injuries it sustained resulting in the road being closed for several hours.
This was only Sheikh Abdul’s second FEI ride on Contraband, who has had eight other different riders across his 12 FEI career starts. The horse was the intended ride of Anzac Mehmood at a national ride in Belgium last year. This was while the UAE was suspended from FEI competition, but organisers discovered the permit to compete, puportedly from Mehmood’s native Pakistan, had been faked and stopping him participating.
Sheikh Abdul was suspended by the FEI for two years after another of his rides, Hotspurr Ouarra, tested positive to the banned substance testosterone in Dubai in 2011.