“Strong” new measures applied in the UAE from 13 February failed to reduce speeds in the first two endurance rides to apply them.
The Gamilati Cup for mares on 18 February, and a juniors’ race the next day both recorded some of the fastest aggregate speeds over 120km this season.
Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum won the Gamilati Cup with a final loop speed of 32.11kph and average speed of 27.05kph.
The third-placed horse’s final loop was 37.03kph. In the juniors’ race, the winner’s final loop was 34.43kph, with an average speed of 27.77kph. In both rides less than a third of the field completed.
Critics predicted that lowering the compulsory heart recovery rate to 60bpm (from 64bpm) in the final loop only would be ineffective.
Results suggest riders are presenting horses later to the vet to ensure they register a rate of around 58bpm, and making up the deficit by riding faster in the earlier loops.
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Last month the FEI’s Manuel Bandeira de Mello said high speeds were linked with catastrophic injuries, and that other measures applied had not slowed the riders down.
French owner-rider Virginie Simon posted her experiences of the 160km President’s Cup on her public Facebook page. International riders rarely go “on the record”.
Virginie said she witnessed many “vile acts” that she reported to officials.
Last March the UAE federation was suspended for four months and signed a legal agreement with the FEI, which is understood to have included the removal of the World Championship event from Dubai in December 2016 if standards did not improve. The FEI has emphatically denied that the difficulty in finding an alternative championship venue is influencing its handling of the crisis.
FEI secretary-general Sabrina Ibanez: “The Emirates Equestrian Federation (EEF) is fully aware of what it is in the balance.”
Ref: H&H 25/02/2016