A British endurance team took gold in Rajasthan’s inaugural 50km International Invitational Endurance Championship on 28 January, the first of its kind in India.
Britain’s Lesley-Ann Parker took individual gold and Fiona Griffiths silver, with Caroline Moorey and Bryony Dickins making up the rest of the team that fought off competition from France, Sri Lanka and India.
Lesley-Ann and Fiona led from the start, were fastest through the vet gate and remained ahead throughout the second loop. Other teams threatened their lead as a large group of riders arrived together at the last water trough, but the Brits pushed ahead and were first through the finish.
The course, which began on a sandy polo field, wound through the streets of Dundlod then out onto tracks through the Great Thar Desert.
Competitors shared water troughs with camels, wandering cows and donkeys, bringing an exotic edge to the experience.
The riders were lent Marwari horses from the Indigenous Horse Society of India, who were keen to raise awareness of their native breed and prove its strength and suitability for the task.
The race, which was run under FEI rules and supervised by FEI officials, was organised by the Rajasthan Equestrian Association and the Equestrian Federation of India. It was run alongside the Indian national trials that featured races of 60km, 80km and 100km, contested mainly by Indian Army teams clad in regimental dress.
News of the all-female British team’s visit attracted widespread attention in the local press and inspired two local ladies’ colleges to enter teams in an event that is traditionally dominated by men.
Event organisers and FEI officials commended the British riders for their riding, as well as their help and support for other competitors throughout the race.