Six experienced young British endurance riders will today attend the opening ceremony of the FEI World Young Rider Championships in Bahrain.
The Team flew out two weeks ago and have acclimatised well to the fierce Middle-Eastern temperatures. A purpose built venue in Sakhir has been provided for the horses and riders with full accommodation for the 500 people and 35 officials involved. Vet tests and briefings will take place tomorrow before the competition gets underway on Saturday (17 December).
“Acclimatisation will be the biggest single difficulty”, said Endurance GB international chairman Maggie Maguire before the team left for Bahrain. “The British-based horses will be used to winter conditions.”
A thorough training programme took place over the year and the Endurance GB team places were fiercely contested. The final six were selected in September.
Zara Moon and Philip Hirst will both be representing Britain for a second time. Moon, who is last year’s EGB overall champion, will be partnering her International horse Yamavah. Dubai-based Hirst will be riding his mother’s Vlaq Khamul.
Anna Williams is another experienced team member, who has represented Britain on two previous occasions. Wiliams will be partnering the eight-year-old H S Saboteur, who completed his first 120km in one day at Cirencester 2005. Alice Beet from Surrey will be riding Harmatan de Lozere, who she qualified in Dubai last year, and Gemma Parkin, from Derbyshire will be riding Lutandorvici.
Abigail Lockett, from Stafford has been selected with the experienced Delorto Zaranz, who has already competed abroad at Wicklow Hills 1999 and was at the WEG in Jerez in 2002. Winscombe-based Rachel Harvey is a non-travelling reserve with Sarah Ryson’s Prince Imperial.
“All the young riders are excellent,” Maguire says. “They have all had a lot of success.”
When the competition gets underway on Saturday, more than 150 competitors from 33 different countries will journey 120km through the desert during the course of one day. “Consistent cantering in a rhythm is the key to conserving energy,” said Maggie Maguire, “In this country rides often require lots of stopping and starting but in the desert you can pretty much canter the whole ride”.
Each of Endurance GB’s riders has completed at least one 120km endurance ride since November last year and are accustomed to pacing distances according to the physical build of their horse and the terrain and weather conditions.
They will all use heart monitors to check the conditions of their horse throughout the course of the Championship ride and will be required to present their horse to the vet at various set intervals to be checked as fit to continue.
“It is a considerable test,” Maguire explains, “It is all about doing it within the capabilities of the horse”.
The team will be given advice by team vet Adam Driver who has spent the last two winters in Dubai and who understands the conditions and the impact they have on foreign horses.
“The return flights are expected on the 19th when we hope some gold from the sands will be on board with them”, said a spokesperson for Endurance GB.
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