Monday, September 12, 2011

France: Nobby and Ponton win European Endurance gold - Full Article

September 12, 2011

Spain's record-breaking partnership of Maria Alvarez Ponton and Nobby took their fourth championship title in a row when putting in another phenomenal performance at the FEI European Endurance Championships 2011 in Florac, France yesterday.

And the host nation had plenty to celebrate too, as Virginie Atger, Julien Goachet, Sunny Demedy and Benedicte Santisteva claimed the team honours for France.

Concerns about the intense heat in the days leading up to the event dissipated when a cooling mist shrouded the mountainous course as the riders set off with a racing start at 4.30am. And it was an extraordinary sight as their headlamps guided the 76 competitors from 17 countries through the darkness over the early stages of their 160 kms challenge. Florac is recognised as one of the toughest endurance tracks in the world, with a climb to 1665 metres at its highest point, and a completion, let alone a victory here, is a coveted achievement in this most demanding of equestrian sports.

The track did not follow the modern "clover-leaf" formula often used in the sport today, in which the loops return to a central base during the course of the race. In contrast, the six loops on the Florac track stretched out over fresh ground and, while helping maintain the interest of the horses throughout, this presented a significant logistical challenge to the hard-working support crews and officials.

But Ponton and Nobby are already the stuff of legend...

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