Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Malaysia WEC: Women rule in endurance riding

New Straits Times Online
Ajitpal Singh

SINCE its inception in 1986, only two men have managed to win the World Endurance Championships (WEC) individual title and in next month's edition, a woman rider is tipped to be the winner again.
In endurance racing, women make up the majority of competitors and more than 50 per cent of the 141 competitors for the 12th edition on Nov 6-9 will be women.

WEC technical advisor, Derek Liebenberg said endurance racing is a popular discipline in equestrian among women riders.

"The reason women riders have won nine out of 11 world individual titles is because of their huge numbers in each previous editions.

"I have reason to believe that women riders will start as favourites in Terengganu," said Liebenbery at the Terengganu International Endurance Park (TIEP) in Lembah Bidong, Setiu on Saturday.
"The 160-km race is supposed to be tougher for women as they are lighter and need to strap 'dead weights' to their saddles.

"The minimum weight for competitors in endurance events is 75kg and normally only women athletes need to strap weights to their saddle."

Women riders from the United States have won seven consecutive editions, starting with the inaugural event in Italy through Cassandra Schuler, followed by three-time winner Becky Hart (1988-United States; 1990-Sweden; 1992-Spain).

Valerie Kanavy won in 1994 in The Netherlands and in 1998 in the United Arab Emirates, while her daughter Danielle nailed the 1996 US edition.

France's Milla Killa Perringerard broke the US dominance in 2000 to ensure a woman won it again, while Ahmed Al Maktoum of the UAE emerged the first men's winner in the 2002 edition in Spain.

In the 2004 edition in UAE, Barbara Lissarague of France won it for the ninth time for the women while Spain's Miguel Villa Ubach struck one back for the men when he emerged champion in Germany in 2006.

Meanwhile, the national squad, consisting of 12 riders led by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, have begun their final preparation for the WEC at the TIEP.

Malaysia are hoping to win their first ever world meet medal in the team event.

All the local horses, including Tuanku Mizan's ride -- Taljari Moon Pharoah -- are in good condition for the event.

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