Tuesday, August 22, 2006

WEC: Spaniard heads off French riders to win Endurance

Today in Aachen, the Spanish rider Miguel Vila Ubach (ESP), 33, aboard the grey Arabian gelding Hungares, won the Individual world title in Endurance.

Two young French ladies join him on the podium: Virginie Atger, 22, on Kangoo d'Aurabelle in silver and Elodie Le Labourier, 24, on Sangho'Limousian in bronze.

This is the first time since the FEI World Endurance Championships began in 1986 that a Spanish rider has won the supreme title.

This definitely was an emotional victory. After 160km in six loops and a riding time of 9 hours 12 min 27 seconds, the winning pair entered the main stadium to cross the finishing line in a torrential downpour. The crowd cheered loudly the new World Champion and the tears of rider and crew were streaming down with the rain drops.

"I knew we were good but I don't believe I'm here today," a happy Miguel declared at the press conference that followed his arrival. "I was a European Champion back in 1999 and I've been dreaming for another title ever since but I'd never have thought it would be this one."

The pair were in 47th position after the fourth vetgate but this had not discouraged them. On the contrary, they had been saving their strength for the last 13km loop. "I knew my horse could fly over the last bit. We rode out of the vetgate, I saw the French girls and decided to follow them as I was sure they would get good placings. The horse felt so strong that we found ourselves quite up front. And then I felt we could make it and decided to just go for it.
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