Thursday, November 06, 2008

[WEC Reports] Horse Riding is a Sport of the Kings

Allaam Ousman

6 November 2008

KUALA TERENGGANU (MALAYSIA) — There will be a big royal presence in the World Endurance Championships affirming that horse riding is a sport of the kings.

Hosts Malaysia will be led by none other than their king Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin whose passion for the sport is exemplary. Sultan Mizan who hails from Kuala Terengganu was responsible for bringing the FEI World Endurance Championships to Malaysia for the first time and is a fierce competitor. He came in 29th among 137 riders in the energy-sapping 160-km race in the Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Cup held in UAE in January. The Malaysian monarch was also selected to represent the country at the Asian Games in Doha in 2006, but had to withdraw as it coincided with his proclamation.

Sultan Mizan is not the only 'blue blood' competing in the event. The Crown Prince of Dubai, Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and his younger brother Shaikh Majid, will lead the UAE charge in this gruelling competition. Shaikh Hamdan, who has won a number of endurance trophies, including the Asian Games gold and more recently, a fourth place in the European Open in Portugal last year, is set to ride Jazyk. Shaikh Majid rides another European Open campaigner Spenda Crest Kamouflage. Shaikh Hamdan is ranked 17th in the world while Shaikh Hamdan is at 33rd.

Among the other royal participants are Bahrain Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who is ranked ninth in the world. The 21-year-old Shaikh Nasser is best remembered for winning two silver medals (individual and team) at the 2006 Asian Games. He will be riding Kheopsy Du Pilat. Also in the team is his brother Shaikh Khalid, who won a 160km endurance race in England three months ago.
Women power

Since its inception in 1986, the World Endurance Championship individual title has only been won by two men. In this 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 133 competitors for this edition are women.

Women riders from the US have won seven consecutive editions, starting with the inaugural event in Italy through Cassandra Schuler, followed by three-time winner Becky Hart. Valerie Kanavy won in 1994 and 1998, while her daughter Danielle won the 1996 US edition. France's Milla Killa Perringerard broke the US dominance in 2000 to ensure a woman won it again, while UAE's Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed emerged the first men's winner in the 2002 event in Spain.

Age no barrier

Janice Worthington, 68, may be the oldest competitor at this year's World Endurance Championship and is determined to prove that age will not stand in her way of aiming for glory.

With more than 30 years experience of horseback riding, this will be her fifth outing at World Endurance Championship, the first of which was in Compiegne, France in 2000, followed by Jerez de la Frontera, Spain (2002), Dubai, UAE (2004) and Aachen, Germany (2006).

One of them is eight-year-old Golden Lightning which she has shipped out here for the championship.

Despite her age, Janice has chalked up over 48,500km in the saddle and has not showed any signs of slowing down. Just two months ago, she won a 160-km all-night endurance race in the United States.

Posted By Merri to WEC Reports at 11/06/2008 05:17:00 PM

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