A championship-winning horse has been put down at the FEI world endurance championships at the weekend (15-18 September).
Ajayeb, ridden by UAE rider Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum, tripped and fell on the fourth loop of the 160km track in Samorin, Slovakia.
The 15-year-old chestnut mare suffered “an irreparable leg injury” to her off fore and had to be put down.
“It was a very tough day”, said Spanish rider Jaume Punti Dachs, who took team and individual gold at the competition.
“There were magnificent horses in front of me, but endurance sometimes happens like this. You do everything right and then something goes wrong. It’s like life.”
Jaume took team and individual gold at last year’s European championships riding Ajayeb.
This year he rode nine-year-old grey Twyst Maison Blanche to complete the track in 6:46:42 with an average speed of 23.60 km/h.
Jaume’s teammate, Alex Luque Moral, took the event’s best conditioned horse award with Calandria.
The 10-year-old grey mare was 50 seconds off the pace and took individual silver.
Bahrain’s HH Sheikh Nasser Bin Al Kalifa took bronze with Waterlea Dawn Treader in a time of 6:49:47.
The Spanish team, completed by Angel Soy Coll, led an all-European team podium, with France taking silver and the Netherlands bronze.
Jaume was a team gold medallist at the World Equestrian Games in 2014.
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His wife, Maria Alvarez Ponton, was also competing on Saturday, but her horse did not pass the vet check after the second loop.
She previously held the two titles concurrently after winning European and world gold in 2009 and 2010.
The track, which ran between the river Danube and the neighbouring canal, was flat and fast and the 134 starters set off at pace from the 6am mass start.
For more reaction and analysis of the fatal accident and the world championships, see next week’s Horse & Hound magazine, out Thursday (22 September).