Monday, December 12, 2005




By RAMI HULAYYEL

KAZAKHSTAN riders stepped up their preparations ahead of the prestigious Gulf Energy-sponsored World Junior Endurance Championship scheduled to start on Thursday and conclude on Sunday at the Endurance Village in Sakhir.Five riders will be representing the former Soviet Republic which will take part for the first time in an international event abroad at the junior level. The team members are Gleim Vladimir, Kufanov Khasen, Oriov Denis, Gonlev Vitor and Kokov Vyacheslav.

"We made the final selection after testing riders from different villages in Kazakhstan," said Kazakhstan Equestrian Federation's endurance department chief Alexander Andrievskiy.

Unfortunately, the team suffered a major setback just before their flight to Bahrain as Gekhaev Daim was removed from the squad after breaking his leg during a training session.

According to Andrievskiy, the team has been preparing for this championship for the last three years at Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino Balkaria which is in the south of Russia.

"Our team riders are aged between 17 to 21. So it's absolutely a young squad and most of them are abroad for the first time," said the 57-year-old chief who is also International Equestrian Federation (FEI) judge.

"The riders have been training together for quite a long time and therefore they know each other very well. Maybe it will be easier for us because we are mostly together and competing in the mountains," said Andrievskiy.

He said the riders were overwhelmed by the excellent hospitality and very kind relationship from the Bahrain organising committee and the people of Bahrain.

For the last 13 years, Andrievskiy has been organising and sponsoring national and international endurance races in Kazakhstan and other former Soviet Union Republics. During the same time he became the FEI judge five years ago.

"This year, we took part in three-star races in several countries in Europe and our best riders from Kazakhstan qualified for this championship in Bahrain after successfully completing three 160 kms race," said the chief co-ordinator of former Soviet Union Republics.

Stables

Andrievskiy said in Kazakhstan villages people start riding horses at the age of four or five and continue their lives to be on horses as they help their parents everyday at the stables by training the horses and looking after them.

"Now we have some Kazakhstan riders in Russia. We managed to have a special riders school where our rider cannot only train but also have an education. We arranged a special time for the young riders which is convenient to them. They go to the school in the morning and then in the afternoon they train the horses," he said.

"The course in Bahrain is difficult for us. You can imagine how different the pressure will be on the horses on the deep sand. It is rather flat but different sand quality which makes it hard for most of the teams taking part in the championship," said Andrievskiy.

"We have only brought tvery good level riders and rather clever riders because the rider has to feel the horse each moment and know when is it possible to go faster and when to slow down," he said.

"We arrived here in Bahrain on December 1 and it is rather a short period for us to climatise for the championship. But the facilities here are fantastic. The organising committee did everything for us to feel comfortable here and we are very grateful for them," he said.

A total of 140 riders, representing 30 countries from across the world, will be competing at this championship which will be over 120 kms divided into five stages.

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