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Portugal is fielding a young, yet experienced group this year.The Portuguese have two riders competing in The President of the UAE Endurance Cup this year. Vasco Avo is the 2004 Portuguese Champion. Also, Jose Maria Branco will also participate.

Vasco Avo

Photo by Steph Teeter
Vasco Avo has been competing in endurance for the last 14 years. He represented his country in the 1994 World Championship and the 1995 European Championship.

He stopped competing for a few years while his children were young and resumed three years ago. In the Presidents Cup he rides Levada the mare on whom he won the CEI*** Barroca d'Alva in November. Levada also completed the 2002 World Championships in Jarez Spain.

Avo has four horse in training two at top level and two novices. He lives in the famous and beautiful heritage city of Evora, a city still surrounded by an old Roman wall. In Evora he manages an historical hotel owned by his family who also run an excellent horse farm that specialises in breeding endurance horses.

They stand two stallions one of who was the 1995 Eldric Champion. All the mares have good endurance records, one of them Balalaika won the 1992 Spanish Championship in Barcelona. They have sold two mares to the Emirates Ozemar and Marijosa .

The city Evora also hosts an endurance festival each year that features a 160km ride that is very popular with the European riders. This is the first time Avo has visited or competed in the UAE ad if his mare adapts well to the desert course he expects to average around 18kph. His horse has had good preparation as her last ride in Portugal, which she won, was over a flat sandy course but naturally the weather was cooler than here.

Jose Maria Branco

The other rider is 24 year old Jose Maria Branco whose father Paulo has been the Chef d'Equipe for the Portuguese team for many years. Branco has four horses in training and rides El Kib Du Vivarais in The Presidents Cup.

His has been successfully competing on this homebred 13 year old grey gelding since 1999 and on whom he won the 160km ride in Evora in 2002. He also rode this horse over the Dubai course in The FEI UAE World Cup of 2003. Branco was a member of the 2001 Portuguese Bronze Medal team and 2003 Silver Medal team in the Open European Championship.

He is hard to miss at an endurance ride as he is very tall and stands out in a crowd. He works along side his father in the film industry as a photographer producing the static images for marketing the films.

The 2005 HH President's Cup event is sponsored by Omega, Emirates Call, United Design, Paris Gallery, Mercedes, Bovis Lend Lease, and Max Group.

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HH President's Cup
February 17, 2005
Abu Dhabi, UAE

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