At the CEI 3* 120km event held last weekend, on the outskirts of the world famous Italian city of Assisi, the proposed 'Formula 1' finish was tested to much approval.
This test is the third in a series of trial events being undertaken as part of the Endurance Review which is being conducted during 2007 and early 2008.
The first trial involved a scientific study of Endurance horses competing in Dubai in February this year. The second trial, held in Portugal in the spring, tested the use of four vet gates (rather than five) over a 160 km course to ensure riders took more responsibility for the care of their horses rather than relying of the Veterinary Officials.
Last weekend's trial involved the closing of the out gates onto the course loops one hour after the arrival of the first horse to cross the finish line. Any horse stopped by the use of the 'Formula 1' finish at a Vet Gate was still required to complete all Vet examinations and, in doing so, meet all of the parameters to continue even though not being required to do so.
All of the horses effected by the closure of the course were supportive of the trial and felt that it was in line with the need to protect the horse in Endurance competition.
Whilst the riders were confident in their horse's ability to go on and complete the full distance despite the unusual hot temperatures experienced on the day, they felt that the closing of the course and the ability to still be placed in the overall standings was good for the sport.
Ian Williams, FEI Director of Endurance who was present at the event commented, 'Those involved in the trial were very positive with the outcome. We will now pass the findings on to the FEI Endurance Task Force who will consider the possibilities further. We will need to also further trial this style of finish over 160km to gain a full picture of its effect'.
The Organisers had worked hard to attract the general public to this showcase event. Fashion shows, an open air Gala Dinner and breathtaking firework display took place on the eve of the competition. Some 10,000 people watched the event on the day, increasing to over 20,000 who attended the prize-giving ceremony and the following musical entertainment, all of which took place below the floodlit medieval city of Assisi with its many churches and cathedrals.