Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Malaysia WEC: Royal treatment for horses


7 October 2008

By : Ajitpal Singh

THE Boeing 747 and Airbus A300 will make their respective maiden flights to the Sultan Mahmud Airport in Kuala Terengganu when they bring in horses for the World Endurance Championships (WEC) in Setiu on Nov 6-9.

The Airbus A300 will transport a total of 21 horses from Australia, Qatar and Oman. The plane, which will arrive on Oct 17, will also be carrying the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin's horse -- Taljari Moonlight Pharaoh from Australia.

The Boeing 747, a direct flight from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, will have 36 horses on board and will arrive at the Sultan Mahmud Airport a day later. Previously, the airport could only accommodate smaller planes due to its short landing airstrip.

However, the runaway has been extended from 2,012 to 3,480 metres to allow bigger planes to land. WEC operations manager, Salim Fazlay said the project to extend the airport runway was mooted by Tuanku Mizan during the Sultan's Cup in November, last year.

"The runway extension project was completed last month," Salim confirmed yesterday.
A total of 34 countries, comprising 150 competitors, have entered for the WEC.

Salim said horses will start arriving from Oct 17 onwards with the last batch from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) due in on Nov 3.

"The UAE and Bahrain will be transporting their horses with their own planes," he said.

Salim said the horses will be kept in stables at the venue (Terengganu International Endurance Park) when they arrive.

"Unlike UAE and Bahrain, riders from the other nations are arriving earlier to let their horses acclimatise and also get used to the 160km arena," Salim added.

The WEC, being held during the monsoon season, is expected to be a wet experience for the competitors.

Tuanku Mizan will lead the Malaysian team, comprising 16 riders.

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