Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum (UAE) proved unbeatable in the endurance competition at the FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games earlier today (Thursday 28 August).
The UAE team dominated the first two phases, but Sheikh Hamdan and Yamamah were the only members to remain in the competition by the end of phase 3. Riding alone for much of the way, the partnership returned home to cheers from spectators.
Marijke Visser of the Netherlands took silver with Laiza de Jalima, while Qatari rider Abdulrahman Saad AS Al Sulaiteen and Koheilan Kincso claimed bronze.
Of the 166 riders from 46 nations who set off at dawn, only around 35 combinations finished. Changeable weather conditions, stamina-sapping ground which became increasingly holding as the day went on, and stringent veterinary procedures saw combination after combination drop out of the competition.
Team gold went to Spain. European champion Jaume Punti Dachs finished fifth on Novisaad d’Aqui with Jordi Arboix Santacreu sixth on Mystair des Aubus and Cervera Sanchez-Arnedo riding Strawblade finishing 22nd.
The home crowd were delighted to see France claim team silver when their riders Jean-Philippe Frances (Secret de Mon), Franck Laousse (Niky de la Fontaine) and Nicolas Ballarin (Lemir de Gargassan) finished eighth, 11th and 12th respectively. Switzerland took the bronze.
British rider Beth Langley finished 33rd on HDS Ametista after crossing the line with teammate Anna Williams, but unfortunately Crystal Wissam’s heart rate did not return to the required rate within the time allowed so Anna was not placed. Annie Joppe retired, while Annette Masterson and Catriona Moon both came in over time after their horses lost shoes on course.
Last year’s endurance world number one, Sabrina Arnold of Germany, withdrew Saltan during the first phase. 2010 World Equestrian Games champion, Spain’s Maria Alvarez Ponton, suffered a fall with Qualif du Poncelet during phase 3. New Zealand’s Andrea Smith required medical assistance after being unseated and trodden on by her horse Glenmore Tariq during phase 4. Isha Judd of Uruguay suffered a broken leg in a fall, while Alberto Morales Morales of Costa Rica was taken to hospital complaining of neck pain.
Tragically, the Costa Rican horse Dorado, died after incurring a head injury when hitting a tree 400m before the first checkpoint. Rider Claudio Romero Chacon is understood to be in a serious but stable condition in hospital after undergoing surgery for fractures and internal injuries as a result of the accident.