High five for Australia's world endurance stars
AUSTRALIA’S two riders at the FEI Endurance World Championships at Butheeb UAE finished well, with Jodie Salinas and Baroud Rio coming in fifth and Andrea Laws-King riding Heathfield's Bin Sadaqa in 31st position.
Australia also featured in the breeding of the magnificent mare Haleh, bred in Australia by Bullio Razorback, winning individual silver.
Her rider, Salem Hamad Saeed Al Kitbi of UAE, had ridden the 12-year-old chestnut mare to win the championship in 2021.
“Haleh is a good horse, today was a very hard race, it was very hot and sandy on the course,” he said. “We are happy with the results. We wanted the team first, but it’s not our day, we’ll come back stronger.”
Individually, the top 10 athletes to finish represented eight separate countries: Bahrain (two riders), UAE, Spain (two riders), Australia, Portugal, Lithuania, Oman and Kuwait.
There were 117 riders, with 36 nations represented, 23 teams and 13 nations with individual riders with 60 female and 57 male athletes competing.
Bahrain took individual and team gold.
His Highness Sheik Nasser bin Hamad of Bahrain was thrilled as he and Darco La Marjorie, a 10-year old gelding, were announced as the gold medal winner.
“We’re number one,” he shouted as he hoisted the Bahrain flag after being advised by the ground jury.
Sheik Nasser was competing in his ninth FEI Endurance World Championships. He was in the leading group of riders all day and crossed the finish line in third place behind two riders from the UAE, but both were eliminated for high heart rates.
The vetting at World Championships is tough, with three veterinarians inspecting each horse at the finish line, where horses only have one chance to meet the pulse criteria. The veterinarians submit their reports to the ground jury member without conferring.
As is often the case in endurance, the veterinary inspections change the standings, with horse welfare paramount throughout the day and that’s what happened here. Just 44 of the 129 starters successfully made it through all stages.
Jaume Punti Dachs won the bronze medal on Echo Falls, riding for Spain.
Bahrain also won team gold when the UAE and Spain teams that have dominated the sport in recent years had horses and riders eliminated on course.
France won the team silver and Portugal took the team bronze.
The individual top ten finishers were Jaafar Merza Abdulnabi Hassan of Bahrain on Bolt de Venelles fourth, Jodie Lee Salinas of Australia on Baroud Rio fifth, Omar Blanco Rodrigo of Spain on Soraya Peu sixth, Leonor Moreira of Portugal on Spirit de Crouz seventh, Alisija Zabavaska of Lithuania on MSA Silver Gazal eighth, Mahmood Marhoon Salim Al Fori of Oman on Dalila de Fontanel ninth and Heba Alyaeesh of Kuwait on Adonis du Comte tenth.
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All images: JON STROUD
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