Euston Park Endurance has accepted responsibility for administrative blunders that enabled a novice, unregistered rider to join a 160km FEI ride.
Newcomer Saeed Khalil Mansour Al Mansoori, 28, slipped through all pre-ride identity checks, lining up on HS Jamal on 5 August wearing a number originally allocated to another combination and making it 11 horses on an official start list of 10.
The FEI investigated after witnesses raised concerns days later, though anomalies remain.
The rogue duo came to spectator attention because the rider allegedly fell off and the horse had to be caught.
The FEI says the ground jury was made aware of Al Mansoori’s ineligibility 10 minutes after the start, and acted quickly to stop him. But it was a week before official results were amended to show their participation and subsequent disqualification.
A FEI spokesman said bib 34 was originally allocated to Valkiry La Coudrelle, a non-starter, but was re-allocated to HS Jamal, a late entry. He passed the veterinary check on 4 August but organisers did not update timekeepers, Tawqeet.
Ten minutes after the start, Tawqeet raised the alert and the ground jury acted to stop HS Jamal, who had travelled only 700 metres from the start.
Ride director Nick Brooks-Ward said the errors resulted from an “unforeseen additional security protocol brought in mid-afternoon on the day before”.
“As the athlete’s name was not provided to us until some hours later we overlooked the check on his eligibility,” he told H&H.
“I take full responsibility for my actions, but am happy that the oversight was speedily picked up by our timekeepers on the day so that the horse could be stopped very shortly after the start.”
Euston is due to stage the 2019 European championships.
Mr Brooks-Ward added: “I have assured the FEI that no similar incidents will happen again at our venue.”
No explanation has been provided for the actions of Mr Al Mansoori.
FEI endurance rules have a strong welfare remit, aimed at ensuring no horse or rider can contest longer distances before they satisfactorily complete the shorter ones. Mr Al Mansoori did not even achieve novice qualifications during his brief spell competing in national rides in the UAE several years ago.
HS Jamal is owned and usually ridden in FEI competition by Britain’s Lauren Mills. She did not respond to H&H requests for comment on why she lent her horse to the rider.
This news story was first published in 23 August 2018 edition of Horse & Hound magazine