Endurance world champion at centre of rides scandal

  • The reigning world champion Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum (pictured top), is among a number of big names in Middle East endurance caught up in the “bogus” rides scandal.

    The Crown Prince of Dubai is listed as taking part in one of the 13 rides under investigation by integrity services agency, Quest.

    In addition, hundreds of horses from stables variously owned by Sheikh Hamdan and other members of the ruling families of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are also implicated.

    If the results are proved to have been falsified, the FEI faces an unprecedented exercise in mass disqualification. Asked about possible sanctions for the listed riders and owners, and also those who competed unqualified horses in longer distance rides, a FEI spokesman said: “We will need to wait for the conclusions of the investigation before deciding on the next steps.”

    Two weeks ago the FEI suspended the UAE federation for an “indeterminate” period, as the list of welfare and cheating scandals grows. H&H was the first to reveal that a 120km “qualifier” on 21 January for the President’s Cup did not take place.

    Now, 12 more suspect rides have been identified.

    In December, the FEI abandoned potential disciplinary action against Sheikh Hamdan over the Marmoog horse-swap allegations at the Euston 2012 world championships, on a legal technicality.

    Sheikh Hamdan is back under the spotlight, regarding an 80km one-star qualifier listed for 27 December 2013, with a claimed 100% completion rate.

    All 36 horses came from his stables and their detailed loop data is identical to results embedded in a ride staged just a week before.

    Sheikh Hamdan is also listed as riding Shardell Aladdin in a suspected bogus 160km night ride on 12 May 2012, which provided a number of horse-and-rider championship qualifications.

    Unusually, no schedule is available on the FEI database for 12 May, in which six members of the prominent Al Marri family also listed as “competing”. Abdullah Al Marri is also implicated in relation to three other suspect rides. He was a member of the UAE team at the World Equestrian Games in 2014.

    South Africa’s Gerda Burger gained her Euston 2012 qualification on May 12 with Harmere Zeal, a horse then registered in the personal ownership of Sheikh Mohammed.

    Sheikh Hamdan’s office and the South African equestrian federation did not respond to requests for comment.

    Ref: H&H 26 March, 2015

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