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Cuckson Report | October 11, 2016
It may have been staged three weeks ago, but unsavoury matter is still rising out of the effluence of the world endurance championships at Samorin.
There seems to have been so much anarchy and/or incompetence at the replacement venue in Slovakia on September 16th you have to wonder how much worse the championship could actually have been if still staged in Dubai.
The UAE contingent – all riding for the Maktoums’ premier stables, no rider or owner from any of the other Emirates got a look-in – set out defiantly, having been stripped of the right to stage this event themselves. But they are not the only ones to blame for the shambles at Samorin. Too much of what is widely reported to have occurred behind the scenes suggests that for all their brave word, elements of FEI officialdom are still at pains not to offend the ruling family of Dubai.
So many endurance scandals should have provided the “tipping point” for serious reform: the media focus on doping offences in the royal barns of Dubai, the Marmoog swap and other horse identity frauds, Splitters Creek Bundy, the phantom rides. But numerous official wrist-slappings of the UAE have not resulted in any discernible improvement in their respect for horses, other riders, officials or for FEI rules.
Following Samorin, many more senior figures have felt moved to speak out on social media and in mainstream equestrian publications. Maybe now the tide will start to turn…but I am not holding my breath.
Read this salutary account, for instance, from a very experienced organiser and four-star judge, Francois Kerboul. If you are involved with other horse sports you will find just one of his many bullet points shocking and unbelievable, and you may not make it to the end without a stiff drink. Here is the original French on www.ceermp.org (scroll to the heading “WEC Samorin (SVK) 17-09-2016: Quand les rumeurs se font confidences et inquiètent passablement”). There is an English translation at the foot of this blog.
I will not take up your time with extra commentary on Francois’s text, other than to note that a) none of it to date has been denied in any other reputable media; b) regarding the alleged “sale” of the Italian grooming area to the UAE, bear in mind that the foreign judge who could have reversed it was a Mr Al Hammadi who is, ahem, from the UAE; and c) the intervention of the French team manager relates to a widely-expressed view that Ajayeb should never have been passed to set off on what was to prove her fatal phase...
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