Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sheikh has early lead in Endurance

By Mark Maloney -

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates has the early lead in the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games endurance event.

The sheikh, riding Ciel Oriental, arrived at the Kentucky Horse Park for the first vet check with an average speed of 24.1 kilometers per hour. He made it through the check in 1:11, his horse’s heartbeat at a comfortable 52. (Criteria heartbeat is 64 beats or lower.)

The check came after the first 32 1/2 kilometers — about 20 1/2 miles — of the 100-mile race.

photo: Jason Sankovitch

Mercedes Tapia of Argentina, riding Ras Senor, led early Sunday in the 100-mile Endurance event at the Kentucky Horse Park.

Right behind the sheikh is the reigning world champion, Maria Mercedes Ponton of Spain, riding Nobby.

Then came Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum on SAS Alexis, and Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum on Rukban Dikruhu MMN, both of the United Arab Emirates.

Fifth was the leading American, Heather Reynolds, on Ssamiam.

Deborah Reich, the Team USA alternate, moved into the lineup because Ellen Rapp’s mount Berjo Smokey was lame.

• While most entrants rode off to a cheering crowd, one did not. The Canadian horse RBF Super Sport, ridden by Ruth Sturley, wanted nothing to do with the noise and balked at the start line. Not until the crowd quieted was Sturley able to urge her horse on, about four minutes behind the leaders.

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