Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Britain's riders eye podium slot



By RAMI HULAYYEL

BRITAIN have fielded a strong six-member squad for the Gulf Energy World Junior Endurance Championship to be held in Bahrain from December 15 to 18 and are confident of winning the top medals.

Crew member Peter Moon is quite optimistic of his team putting up a good performance in this 120-km event and be among the top three on the podium by the end of the day.

"We have come here to win medals," said a confident Moon. "Since we arrived here a few days ago, we have been doing some stretching and warming up and we should start practising tomorrow," he said.

Managed by chef de equipe Sue Broughton, the team was selected last September and since then have had many training camps all around the UK, including a week-long training camp at the premises of International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) in Newmarket and three sessions in Wolverhampton.

"We had a squad of nine riders which was further reduced to six. The selection was made depending on the riders fitness, experience and the horse's pedigree," he said.

Interestingly Moon's 17-year-old daughter Zara will be taking part in the championship on Yamavar which is also 17 years old and is the oldest horse in the event.

"Yamavar is the most experienced horse in this championship. It has taken part in many events in the UK, Spain and Italy so we are quite confident that it will do well here in Bahrain," said Moon.

Zara has been riding in endurance races since she was eight. She is studying arts, graphics and mathematics in the UK and will do her final qualifying examinations when she returns home.

Qualified

Other team members are Philip Hirst, Abigail Lockett, Gemma Parkin, Alice Beet and Anna Williams who is the daughter of the FEI Endurance Committee director Dr Ian Williams.

Anna, who is aged 21, will be riding HS Saboteur, a new horse which only qualified for this championship this year.

"She has taken part in qualifying rides in the UK and recently went to Argentina where she took part in an invitational ride along with Hirst," said Moon.

Living abroad in Switzerland, Anna had been to the Gulf region and specially to the UAE where she worked for sometime.

Hirst will be riding his mother's horse Vlacq Khamul which took part in the European Championship a few months ago. It was leading the race but unfortunately it took the wrong turn and had to pull out after losing valuable time.

Alice, one of the youngest talents in the UK, is the only team member yet to arrive. She is expected to land in Bahrain on Saturday.

"Alice started riding last year in Dubai and qualified on a number of horses in 120 kms events, including one in the UK," said Moon.

But Alice will be competing in this championship on Harmatan de Lozere, a horse owned by Dubai Crown Prince and Defence minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The horse is also arriving on Saturday.

Twenty-one-year-old rider Gemma, who will ride Lutandorvici, is another young talented girl who is expected to put up a good performance in the championship.

Gemma started riding in endurance races since she was eight and was the British national champion in 2003. She recently finished third in the 160-km FEI Dukers Race in the UK.

Abigail is aged 20 and will be riding Delorto Zaranz, another veteran horse which won last year's 160-km Summer Celstis Ride, one of the major endurance events in the UK.

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