Sidelines doesn’t normally cover endurance, but anyone who completes -or even attempts to complete- a 100 mile ride in just 8 hours deserves our attention! The press release and photos below are courtesy of USEF and the FEI. A special congratulations to Deborah Reich, the only US rider who completed the race, proving once again that endurance racing is HARD!
by Erica Larson for USEF
Lexington, KY – The endurance race at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games kicked off at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday as 108 horse-and-rider combinations headed out on the six-loop track, all hoping to be the first to finish at the end of the day. The day started out cool and breezy but ended up being perfect weather for an endurance competition.
Five U.S. endurance combinations started the race. However, two of them – Lindsay Graham’s horse, Monk (an eight-year-old Arabian gelding owned by Chris Martin), and Dr. Margaret Sleeper’s horse, Syrocco Harmony (an eight-year-old Arabian gelding), were eliminated for metabolic reasons. Janice Worthington’s Golden Lightning (a 10-year-old Arabian gelding) was eliminated due to lameness.
The sole finisher for the U.S. was Deborah Reich and her mare eight-year-old Arabian mare, DJB Juniper. Originally the team alternate, the pair finished the race in 8 hours, 42 minutes and 55 seconds, finishing in 18th place.
“We were in the front groups for about the first half,” Reich said. “She got a little tired on the fifth loop. But then she was crewed so well that I think she got a second wind and finished the race really strong.”
After being named to the team, Reich trained in Kentucky for a month before the Games. This was Reich’s first World Equestrian Games.
“It was really special to be able to ride here in Kentucky, and I really got to appreciate the beauty of it. It’s been great to work as a team,” she said. “I am honored to have been picked. I really believed that I had a horse that could help our team.”
Heather Reynolds and Ssamiam crossed the finish line in fourth place, but were spun after “Sam” did not pass the final examination.
“If this were a horse I expected to come here and do great things with, I would probably be crying right now,” Reynolds said after her ride. “But this is a young horse. I’m so proud of him right now, and I think he’s an exciting horse for the future.”
Monday morning, after the test of the endurance race, all of the horses were examined and all of the U.S. horses were found to be in good shape. The riders are looking forward to their next race.
Taking home the Individual Gold medal was Maria Mercedes Alvarez Ponton of Spain and her long time partner, Nobby. The pair led through much of the day and crossed the finish line with a total ride time of 7 hours, 35 minutes and 44 seconds. This is the second consecutive WEG Gold Medal for the pair.
For me, he is the best horse,” she said after her ride. “He has a great heart and recovery time, but what won the race today was his mind. He has a great mind.”
Finishing just behind them in the Silver-medal position was HH Sheik Mohammad bin Rashid al Maktoum and his flashy chestnut, Ciel Oriental of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The pair finished the course with a total ride time of 7 hours, 36 minutes and 39 seconds.
“I had a great ride,” the Sheik said. “I just took care of my horse and he finished the race strong.”
Finally, in the Individual Bronze-medal position was HE Sheik Hamdan Mohammad al Maktoum and SAS Alexis (UAE). The pair hustled at the end to complete the course in 7 hours, 36 minutes and 56 seconds.
In the Team competition, the riders from the UAE had the fastest total time and took home the Team Gold medal. The total ride time was 23 hours, 53 minutes and 36 seconds for the team members were HE Sheik Hamdan Mohammad al Maktoum aboard SAS Alexis, HE Sheik Majid Mohammad al Maktoum aboard Kangoo D’Aurabelle and Sheik Rashid Dalmook al Maktoum aboard Rukban Dikruhu Mmn.
The Team Silver medal was awarded to France with a total time of 24 hours, 49 minutes and 46 seconds. The team was made up of Sarah Chakil aboard Sakalia, Virginie Atger aboard Azim du Florival and Cecile Miletto Mosti aboard Easy Fortnoire.
Team Germany rallied near the end to take home the Bronze medal. With a total ride time of 25 hours, 34 minutes and 16 seconds, the team was comprised of Gabriela Forster aboard Priceless Gold, Sabrina Arnold aboard Beau Ox and Belinda Hitzler aboard Shagar.
Only five horses were presented at the judging for the coveted title of Best Conditioned Horse this morning. After inspecting the competitors, the judges decided that Hanaba du Bois, ridden by Jean-Philippe Frances from France, would be awarded the title.