Saturday, January 11, 2020

UAE2020 Endurance: Business as Usual in the Killing Fields - Full Article

The mass withdrawal of UAE endurance riders and rides from FEI affiliation on January 1 is making it more difficult for the FEI to reform desert racing.

By: Cuckson Report // Pippa Cuckson

When the FEI General Assembly passed tough new rules to reform endurance six weeks ago, the landslide vote (94 national federations in favour, 19 against) was widely seen as a kick in the teeth for the UAE. But not for long. It is business as usual as the new decade dawns in the desert. At the stroke of midnight on December 31st, desert racing simply removed the FEI from its own equation.

Many of the UAE’s 60-odd winter fixtures had already dropped FEI affiliation in recent years. Now nearly all have dis-affiliated for the second half of this winter season – along with riders and horses and the legion of visiting foreigners who have also not yet renewed FEI registrations for 2020.

The two venues in Dubai and Abu Dhabi at the heart of the doping and horse fatality scandals are simply avoiding tough new FEI rules by running everything as CEN (Concours de Raid D’Endurance International) under UAE national rules. Even prestigious rides like the President’s Cup next month will, for the first time, be staged as CEN rather than CEI (Concours de Raid D’Endurance International), even though it will appear “international” to the wider world.

Around 1,000 UAE endurance riders – including stable jockeys from the Indian subcontinent – would normally renew annually with the FEI. Upwards of 4,000 horses are usually re-registered in the first few months of the year. This month, these figures plummeted to just 54 and 21 respectively, even though the Sheikh Mohammed Cup, first huge race-ride of 2020 was just hours away...

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