Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Aussies no match for Stirling - Full Article

Jenny Sheppard | December 21, 2011

MARTIN Stirling was the star of the World Endurance Championship for Juniors and Young Riders in Abu Dhabi last weekend.

The 15-year-old schoolboy led Uruguay to team and individual glory.

The French stood in silver medal position on the team podium ahead of the Australians, who took bronze, but it was Victorian Allix Jones who was runner-up for the individual title.

Firming up the dominant position of the Uruguayan squad at the biennial event, Oriana Ricca claimed individual bronze and teammate Maria Pereira took the Best Condition award after finishing seventh individually with Mi Jade.

It was a surprise result all round.

There were high expectations that riders from the United Arab Emirates would feature prominently after their convincing wins in 2009.

It did seem the title might be in the UAE's grasp again on Saturday, as Sheik Khalifa Bin Mohammad Al Hamad led throughout the third and fourth stages and looked the rider to beat.

However, despite a three-minute lead going into the final 16km loop, he and his horse, Ultimo, dropped to fifth at the end of the day.

For Stirling, who was accompanied by his parents, two brothers and his baby sister, and by Magdalena Odriozola who owns his winning ride, Vendaval, it was a spectacular achievement.

"I was confident," he said afterwards.

"I wasn't far behind the leading horse in the second-last loop and my horse was in good shape when I went into the last 16km."

Twenty-eight nations were represented at the event - Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, India, Italy, Mexico, Namibia, The Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Slovakia, Sweden, South Africa, Uruguay and the host, the UAE...

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