The sky was mercifully blue for the Endurance prize-giving ceremony which took place today in the main stadium of the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games at Aachen. The medals and flowers were presented by the FEI President, HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein.
The World Champion Miguel Vila Ubach (ESP) could still not believe his luck. He had not been able to sleep last and was still in a dreamy state. He was especially satisfied by the freshness and fitness of his horse.
France, the World Team Champions, highlighted ones again the quality of their team effort. Given the technical difficulty of the course, they had decided to stay together for as many as 100 km, making their final effort towards victory in the final stages of the competition. The French are well known of the great number of quality horses they have. ?My job is very difficult and very easy at the same time,? French Chef d?Equipe commented. ?It is easy because there is so much talent to choose from; it is difficult because at a certain moment a decision has to be made and there?s so much talent that will be left behind.?
For the second time in history, Switzerland wins a silver medal in a World Endurance Championship. The team is composed of one man, Urs Wenger on Zialka, and three women Anna Lena Wagner on Tessa IV, Nora Wagner on Temir and Karin Maiga on Platyn (drop score); two ladies, Anna Lena, 18, and Nora, 19, are sisters. The strategy of the Swiss had been slightly different but almost equally efficient. They had decided to let Urs ride in front, at the risk of being eliminated, and having the ladies follow slightly behind.
Another great achievement is that of the Portuguese team, in bronze, who won here in Aachen their very first equestrian medal. Team member Joao Raposo is sixth individually, which is the best individual placement by a Portuguese rider.
The French team had yet another cause for celebration. The 11-year old mare Hifrane du Barthas ridden by Pascale Dietsch won the Best Condition Award. It is given on the basis of points earned throughout the competition on a pre-agreed scale on the basis of various criteria. Additional points are awarded depending on the final placement and on the horse?s condition under veterinary inspection conducted the following day. Given the degree of veterinary control that exists in the sport of Endurance, the Best Condition Award is just as important and valuable as the final medal.