By M. Satya Narayan, Senior Reporter
Published: November 06, 2008
Terengganu, Malaysia: Two time world champion Valerie Kanavy from the US along with plenty of others were hoping for rain ahead of the World Endurance Championship event.
The skies did open up with a strong shower on Thursday and more rain is predicted over the next few days. While the rain will certainly please many after the heat and humidity, the Europeans will be tested to the limit in the 160-km event.
Having won two individual titles in the last four World Championships, France will be leading the European challenge while the Americans as well as the Australians will be a force to reckon with.
Uruguay will add some South American flavour after Brazil had to withdraw due to a glandis attack was reported.
Reigning European champion Jean Phillipe Frances, who won the title in Portugal last year, is back on the same horse Hanaba Du Bois and leads the French hopes.
Spain's Maria Alvarez Ponton on Nobby, who came third when the Frenchman won, will renew their rivalry.
The two, along with American Kanavy, are accompanied by some talented teammates and a gruelling tussle is on the cards as they tackle the heat, humidity, rain and night conditions starting from 5.30pm today.
"It will be a very interesting race as nobody can say what is in store tomorrow. The conditions will be new and challenging," said Frances, who led a golden double for France in the European Championship.
"We have been training here for about two weeks now and the horses have adjusted well. But much depends on the speed and that depends on the weather conditions," said Frances, who averaged 19.07kmph in his triumph with Hanaba Du Bois.
Kanavy, winner of two golds and a silver and hoping to equal fellow American Becky Hart's record of wins in the world championship, said she was hoping for rain. "It will be good for both the horses and the riders. Otherwise we are used to these conditions as we were based in Florida for a month where conditions are similar," said the 63-year-old champion.
The hosts, with 12 riders in the fray as against six allowed for the other countries, will be hoping to thrill their countrymen with a finish high up in the ranking.
Malaysian King Sultan Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin and veteran horseman Kamaruddin Abd Gani will lead a young Malaysian squad in the championship.
Meanwhile Bahrain and Qatar will be looking to emulate the UAE's achievements in this sport.
The World Endurance Championship in a nutshell:
Start: 5.30 pm Friday
Medals: Team & Individual
Stages: Seven (28.4kms, 27kms, 28.4 kms, 27kms, 22kms, 15.1 kms and 10kms)
Hold period between stages: 40mins, 50mins, 50mins, 60mins, 50mins, 40mins,
Heart rates: At each Vet Check the pulse rate must not exceed 64bpm within 30 minutes recovery.
Posted By Merri to WEC Reports at 11/06/2008 11:27:00 PM