Sunday, March 30, 2003

[RC] IntNewsGroup: Gulf News Article U.S. in bid to halt UAE dominance

Lori & Rick Stewart

Dubai:Friday, March 28, 2003 U.S. in bid to halt UAE dominance
Dubai |By M. Satyanarayan | 28-03-2003

The United States has planned a focussed programme in their bid to halt the
UAE riders' dominance and regain their pride of place in the sport of
endurance.

Speaking to Gulf News during the World Cup Endurance Arthur Priesz , Vice
President of the US Endurance Team (USET) said the aim was to match and
emulate the performance of the UAE riders in competitions held here in the
UAE.

"We started the programme last year and with the World Endurance
Championship likely to be held here in late 2004, we are obviously working
towards that," he said.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Maktoum won the 2002 World Championship while
in 2000 Maya Killa Perringerard brought a halt to the US dominance of world
championship.

Becky Hart won it three times while Valery Kanavy won it in 1994 and 1998
while her daughter Daniella won it in 1996.
"Though the UAE has an endurance history of just over a decade, back in the
US riding as a competition has been on for over a 100 years. But the flat
terrain here is an area on for which we are preparing ourselves," said
Priesz.

A team of six US riders took part in the President's Cup in Al Wathba while
on Wednesday Valery Kanavy led a 6-strong US team of riders for the FEI-UAE
World Cup which was once again dominated by UAE riders.

Kanavy, who finished eight was the first of the foreign riders after seven
UAE riders finished ahead of them.
"We plan to short list rider-horse combinations of about 15 in number and
this will form the nucleus of our 2004 team for the World Championship. For
the world championship itself we plan to bring about eight horses in advance
to the UAE and train them here," Priesz added.

"It is quite amazing to watch the UAE riders in action. They certainly have
changed the face of endurance as a sport. Most of their riders take part in
a competition and ride to finish first. This is in stark contrast to many of
the traditional who first want to finish to win," he said.

'The speed is one aspect on which we are working on.

In competitions in the US each ride has a varied terrain which means a
change in pace and tactic for each area. But here in the UAE it is rather a
flat and predominantly straight trail. Thus we are working on the pace in
such terrains," Priesz added.

Until 1998 the US had dominated the world championship and it was that every
year that Valery Kanavy won her second title. That was also the first year
the UAE as hosts made their presence felt. The very next year the UAE won
the European Open team gold in both the senior and junior level.

The next year in Compiegne, France the UAE missed out on a team medal and a
gold at that but France ended the U.S. dominance.

In 2001 the UAE retained the European Open team gold and also won the World
Junior Championship.
The UAE's crowning glory in endurance came in Perez, Spain when Sheikh Ahmed
at 16, won the 2002 World Championship. Now at every major championship it
is the UAE team which gets the favourites' tag and has left other endurance
powers like US, France and Australia to rethink their strategy and tactics.

And it is in this direction that the U.S. are working to try and regain
their dominance.

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