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Cuckson Report | September 19, 2016
Hands-up anyone who seriously thought the UAE would be on best/better behaviour at Saturday’s world endurance championship (WEC) ride in Samorin, Slovakia?
Having learned nothing whatsoever from the litany of criticism, FEI suspensions and legal agreements, the UAE delivered even worse results than at WEG 2014 and managed to kill their stable star. Not one individual got round by using their trademark burn-out strategy.
Yet all were mounted on seasoned troopers, some prepped by their trainer-mentor Juma Punti Dachs, who steamed through to take two WEC golds for his native Spain with Twyst Maison Blanche. The defending champion Sheikh Hamdan went out for lameness at gate 4 having led with Ramaah.
Only 47 finished out of a field of 134. The sport should be ashamed by both the 35% completion rate and that the provisional first three were eventually ruled out, two for lameness and one for metabolics. Two were Emiratis, one a Uruguayan, another nation fixated on the racing-style sport.
There was some good riding but the overall picture was dire. At Rio, experienced Paralympic dressage rider Philippa Johnson-Dwyer was eliminated for a small spur mark on her horse’s flanks under the blood rules. Philippa lost the use of an arm and has spinal injuries, so any tiny abrasion could possibly have been caused by a totally understandable momentary loss of balance on her part. Yet at a world title endurance ride, for every sympathetic rider you’ll see another that has barely mastered rising trot yet is permitted to crash along for 100 miles hanging on to a mouthful of hardware that would shame the Spanish Inquisition. But then again, large numbers of the public are less likely to watch endurance than an arena sport on TV like dressage: silly me.
The UAE also lost Ajayeb, ride of Sheikh Rashid Dalmook al Maktoum. Ajayeb sustained an open fracture of the cannon bone, the sort seen too often in the desert rides. To add to the catastrophe, witnesses tell me that Ajayeb broke free from a makeshift screen made of sheets and tried to run on three legs after her companions whose riders had continued on their way. She had been up with the front-runners in loops 1, 2 and 3.
Ajayeb was clearly a very special robot who has been passed round the wider Maktoum clan so they can all win something big. Yamamah, winner of WEG 2014, is a previous holder of this dubious honour. Ajayeb won the 2015 Europeans, also at Samorin under Punti Dachs. In January she won Dubai’s most prestigious ride, the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup under Sheikh Hamdan...
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