Fri Sep 25, 2009 By FEI
The countdown is on for a spectacular weekend of endurance competition around the historic city of Assisi in Italy. A huge field is expected to line up with a confirmed entry of 106 riders from 25 nations competing over the 160km circuit.
As well as European riders, the competitors will include representatives from the USA, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Malaysia.
The last FEI European Championships took place at Barroca D’Alva in Portugal with 88 riders from 20 different countries attending the event.
Leading contenders for the individual championship will include: reigning world champion and bronze medallist in Portugal, Maria Alvarez (ESP) with Nobby and reigning European champion, Jean Philippe Frances of France with Hanaba du Bois; two former world champions, Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum (UAE) and 1998 world champion Valerie Kanavy of the USA, one of the most charismatic figures on the circuit, will be among the strongest contenders. In the team contest, the host nation will be among the firm favourites with France, Belgium, Spain and Portugal among other hopefuls, with the open European contest being a top target for the teams from the UAE and Bahrain, which took team silver two years ago.
A tough, technical route has been designed consisting of six loops based around two vetgates. The first “green” loop of 35km will take riders away from the venue to the west of Assisi towards Bastia. The largely flat route will be appreciated by riders who will be setting out in near darkness at 5am. The second loop starts from the vetgate at Valle Di Assisi and will be probably the most challenging of the day. Appropriately coloured red, this 35km stretch takes in some punishing climbs to Collemancio and could be the deciding factor at the finish line according to Italian team rider Enrico Ercoli, “I believe that we must pay attention to the early laps and manage our horses with great care as those who push here are likely to run out of gas!”
The later stages of the race are flatter and could be fast depending on the surface conditions. The third “yellow” loop drops south to Bevagna before heading back to the vetgate at Valle Di Assisi along the Topino river valley. By this point, riders will have the home straight in their sights. At the end of the fourth “blue” loop of 24km, they will leave Valle Di Assisi for the last time returning to the Misura Village venue in the shadow of the majestic Assisi skyline over the steadily climbing 17.5km fifth orange loop. The final phase covering just 14 km will take finishers out over the first part of the opening loop of the day before swinging north above Bastia and doubling back on itself to the dramatic finish line just below the magnificent Saint Francisco's Basilica, in Assisi.
Sponsors Meydan Group will have a purpose-built exhibition booth at the venue. The group’s key activities include: Meydan Racecourse, which is the first project to be launched in March 2010; Meydan Horizons, Meydan Metropolis and Meydan Godolphin Parks.
Mohammad Al Khayat, Meydan Group's Commercial Director said, "This marks our first foray onto the global Endurance racing stage, and we are confident this partnership will continue to re-affirm the camaraderie that exists between both our countries. The UAE and Italy have a longstanding association bound by our equine history and heritage and it is this connection that further strengthens our mutual support of each other and to the dedication we have given to the sport of Endurance racing"
FACTS AND FIGURES
Total Entries: 106
Total European Entries: 81
Total Nations: 25
Total Teams: 19
Total European Teams: 15
Youngest rider: Joona Micklsson (Finland) aged 17
Oldest rider: Jan Buitenhuis (Netherlands) aged 71
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