Sunday, January 13, 2008

UAE riders making the difference

Gulf News - full article

By M. Satya Narayan, Staff Report
Published: January 14, 2008, 00:54

Abu Dhabi: Much before Saturday's His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Cup, the UAE riders had asserted their superiority by winning World, European, Asian and Pan Arab championships.

But Saturday's world record for a 160-km ride by Omair Hussain Al Beloushi on 11-year-old Charlandre Al Sharif left many of the equestrian world's top brass gasping in disbelief.

Omair and Charlandre bettered the old record set by another UAE rider last year by more than 13 minutes, but more than the effort it was the manner in which it was achieved that drew admiration from the vast bunch of riders and officials.

After doing speeds of around 25 kmph over the first three loops, Omair took just under two minutes to present his horse for the veterinary check. But when after 140kms, Omair and Charlandre Al Sharif still registered an incredible speed of 30.29kmph on the final loop, a large gathering waited to see how the horse would fare at the final vet check before being named winner.

Sinking in

And when the electronic heart-beat rate monitor flashed 49 beats per minute, which was much lower than the allowed 65bpm, did the record-breaking effort really sink in?

Two-time world champion Valerie Kanavy from the US did 9 hrs and 07 second when the 1998 World Endurance Championship was held here.

Most of the UAE riders and their crew watched as Kanavy's team impressed with their crewing during the ride and in between the loops.

On Saturday the world watched when the UAE horses, particularly Charlandre Al Shariff took less than two minutes to recover during the first five loops!

The winner averaged a speed of 24.71 kmph for the 160km ride while the best-placed international rider, Laurent Most of France on Khandela des Vialette averaged 20.20kmph while finishing 9th.

In perspective

Putting Saturday's world record in perspective was Ian Williams, head of FEI Endurance Committee. "This course is not easy as many riders have told me, it is a challenging course. There is a limit and we are getting close to that."

"These are elite horse and are unique. And if they keep coming back and doing the same speeds, then we have to accept and respect them," he said.

"The UAE riders are uncovering hidden talent, they are digging deeper and only time will tell. But with our veterinary checking system quite tight we have to agree that this is something special," he added.

Saturday's world record for a 160-km ride by Omair Hussain Al Beloushi on 11-year-old Charlandre Al Sharif left many of the equestrian world's top brass gasping in disbelief.

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