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Twenty-one yellow warning cards were handed out in a single weekend at the start of the UAE endurance season, as the crackdown on rule-breaking steps up.

Numerous violations were spotted on the livestream from the first major CEI/CEN at Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi on 22 October, in addition to many sanctioned on the day by the ground jury.

There was a completion rate of just 18% in the CEI 100Km (20 of 108 starters), no reduction in average speeds, instances of extra-long reins used as whips, and riders retiring just before vet-gates to avoid the penalty points and mandatory rest periods that follow disqualification for metabolics.

The UAE was suspended in March, reinstated only after signing a legal agreement. The FEI declined to comment how long the UAE has to improve standards before another suspension is considered.

“The FEI is actively monitoring,” said a FEI spokesman. “The UAE federation is taking its responsibility seriously, and doing its utmost to deliver competitions with horse welfare as its first priority.”

Most yellow cards resulted from crewing violations.

One horse collapsed near the finish, though got up unaided and was given a full veterinary examination.

The FEI said the high elimination rate resulted from vigilant vetting. All horses eliminated for heart rate recovery, metabolics or unsoundness went to the clinic, only four required “immediate invasive treatment”, and there were no fractures.

At another ride, prominent trainer Ali Al Muhairi, currently serving a record four-year doping ban, was spotted in the vet-gate. The FEI tribunal is considering a previous allegation that Al Muhairi entered the field of play while suspended. This new evidence has been added to the file.

FEI endurance chiefs Brian Sheahan and Manuel de Mello have also written to officials warning that turning a blind eye is “all it takes for a serious and damaging incident to occur”.

Ref: Horse & Hound; 12 November 2015