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RE: Race Day in Egypt - reply from Technical Delegate. (Carol Bunting)

forwarded as it was bounced to listmaster b/c of the size....


-----Original Message-----
From: Maryanne Stroud Gabbani []
Sent: Sunday, May 06, 2001 11:43 AM
To: Ridecamp
Subject: RE: Race Day in Egypt - reply from Technical Delegate. (Carol

I would like to say right off that I do know Carol, and like a great many of
the FEI delegates who have come to Egypt, I like her and respect her work.
However, I do have some points to make. I will speak with great care on
these since, although like many other posters on Ridecamp I have always
treated this as a forum for free discussion of events and opinions, a sort
of virtual dinner party without the calories, it would appear that others
take it far more seriously.  Whatever.

> She states that the variation in ride fees was "because they had to have
> either qualified in two previous rides or pay the ride fees for them".
> This, to me, is totally unacceptable.  The Ride Officials were
> advised that all horses/riders entered were suitably qualified.

I am quite pleased to see that paying ride fees in lieu of having done the
qualifying rides is "totally unacceptable" to Carol as a representative of
the FEI. All of the work that I have done for endurance in Egypt has been
non-aligned, in that I have not worked as the agent of any organising group,
but on behalf of the riders. I have membership in AERC and in the FEI, but I
only work for riders. In that capacity I have gone directly from having
nose-to-nose confrontations with riders who needed points of rules or
horsemanship explained somewhat forcefully in either Arabic or English to
standing up for the rights of the same riders with anyone as need be. I
don't feel that allowing someone to pay fees in lieu of qualification is
such a great idea either, but I was busy coaching and working out crewing
and was not party to those decisions.

> The delay to the start of the rider-briefing was caused by the time taken
> for the weighing-in of the competitors.  Weighing was done on a set of
> bathroom scales in one of the into-vet timekeeper cubicles (only
> reasonably
> flat area available).  These cubicles are very small and can only
> accommodate the two officials required for the weighing and the
> person being
> weighed,so there was some confusion in the queue.  I have spoken to one of
> the two  members of the Ground Jury who carried out the weighing and he is
> adamant that at no time did anyone "jump the queue",  with or without a
> bodyguard.

The description of the weighing in procedure is quite correct. The booths
were small. There were a lot of people. But I was standing about 2 meters or
less from the booth at the time of the incident referred to.

Apparently, the boy in question was asked what he was doing and then he
left, so Carol is correct that no "queue jumping" actually took place,
however discussion was extremely "lively" for some time, and like many of us
who were watching, I opted not to get involved. When I later asked the
people involved, they said that the individual in question did leave, but
there were some rather hard feelings. My apologies.
> She states that "they" decided to apply the cut offs loop by loop.  Quite
> untrue!  The closing time for each vet-gate is worked out from the start
> time. i.e. start to V.G.1, start to V.G.2, etc.
Is this always the case, that the gates are closed, especially in rides
where all the vetting is in one place? Last year there was no closing of vet
gates and this year local riders found this closing rule to be confusing. At
the request of some, I checked my FEI rulebook and noted that there is an
option of timing a ride in its entirety or in portions.  To be absolutely
fair, although it seems at first glance that a loop by loop timing is less
advantageous to novice horses, I'm not sure that mathematically it works out
to make any difference at all. One of these days I'm going to ask one of our
young math whizzes (who are currently in the midst of final exams) to work
it out. With this timing and gate closing, would a rider still have an
overall time of 11 hours in which to finish the ride?
> Due to the comparative inexperience of some of the local horses, it was
> announced at the Briefing that the minimum speed for the
> competion had been
> reduced from 11 k.p.h. to 10 k.p.h. and closing times were worked out  at
> that speed.
I asked one of our veteran riders who was at the briefing the night before
the ride what the minimum speed was. Magdy Abdul Aziz, a long-time
journalist and very accustomed to paying attention to facts, stated that the
speed was definitely set at ll km per hour. In fact, Dr. Ali Abdel Rahim was
announcing at the briefing and he first said that the minimum speed was 10
kph, but he was then corrected by Gen. Samy Negmadin with 11 kph. Was there
another briefing at which the speed was lowered? Perhaps he missed that one.
> I am surprised that Ms. Gabbani mentions "boredom factor".  The
> many riders
> I spoke to (local and foreign) were pleased with the course - not too flat
> as desert courses go and plenty variation underfoot.
The "boredom factor" of which I spoke would certainly not effect visiting
riders. It is lovely desert in the area where they have held the last two
rides, although the course usually goes through some of the less challenging
areas available. The boredom factor to which I refer is one that would
primarily concern the local riders whose horses know every stone in that
desert and who have been over the same track in the last six or seven rides
that were put on by the FEI, the EEF, the Jockey Club or whoever. Maybe our
horses are too good at territory recognition but they perk up if we go to
any area in which there hasn't been a race, and poop out in one where there

> Then we come to "most of the FEI vets and stewards had left the
> area, so if
> anything had happened to them, no one would have known".  Again totally
> untrue.  I was lucky enough to have been supplied with a 4x4 and
> driver, and
> spent most of the day observing the ride, often behind the last of the
> competitors, accompanied each time by a vet.  On each part of the route, I
> met vets, officials and stewards monitoring the ride.  There
> certainly was
> no shortage of vets - 15 on the Commission (who took turns patrolling), 3
> Treatment Vets and two totally dedicated to patrolling the route.
Early in the ride I have to agree with Carol. The period to which I was
referring was that that followed the arrival of the front runners. I had the
misfortune to spend an hour or so stuck with an evil radiator on a hillside
from which I could watch virtually all of the third loop and definitely all
of the fourth loop. There were cars on the fourth loop with the riders who
were finishing quickly, but I was very concerned about the Jordanian woman
I'd been crewing for  who was the last rider on the third loop.

No cars came past my point at any time except for two trucks coming from the
> direction, one picking up the water barrels and the other picking up the
flags. I called friends from the area who had pulled horses earlier and
taken them home. They came out to me, left me with a couple of bottles of
water and a friend who helped me over the course of the next almost two
hours to limp back to their farm, and then picked up Ghislaine's son and
followed her through the third loop. She timed out on that loop, but they
said that they did run into people at some of the stops. When we run our
local rides, we have a car available to follow in the last rider to be sure
that all of the horses get in. I guess in this case it was assumed that the
car with her son was that follow up. I was obviously being much too

> Ms. Gabbani is correct in stating that there were 75 starters -
> most people
> know you should not believe everything you read in the newspapers!!
> She states "Maktoum did not even greet the Federation president who had
> showed up for the race".  I take it she means Sheikh Mohammed bin
> Rashid Al
> Maktoum.  Sheikh Mohammed was a competitor in the race, a very serious
> competitor, and, as any serious endurance rider can tell her,
> socialising is
> not high on the list of priorities of any competitor during the race or in
> the vet holds.
Gee, maybe we aren't serious enough, but Abdel Fattah Ragab told me that he
walked up to Sheikh Mohamed, extended his hand in greeting, and said
something to the effect of Hello, I'm the president of the Egyptian
Equestrian Federation. Welcome to our ride." and he didn't get even a
handshake, so his nose is rather out of joint. Sure, competition is serious,
but my mother would not have been happy if I didn't say hello to someone.

Kidding aside, most of that is politics and not the realm of riders, but the
Jordanians and Syrians like talking to us ok. Maybe they aren't serious
enough either.

> The next statement, "many commented on the rather unusual
> vetting.....remarkably anti-Egyptian".  There was nothing unusual
> about the
> vetting, this was a normal FEI vetting, and I think some of the vets
> concerned might take offence  at "anti-Egyptian".  As I mentioned earlier,
> there were 15 vets on the Commission, all highly respected in the world of
> endurance, including Ray Randall, Jim Bryant, Juliette Mallinson,
> Jean Marc
> Lamolle, Hallvard Somerseth, Antonia Mota, Surendra Babu.
Sorry not to be able to quote with names since those who spoke with me are
not available to give specific permission, so you can always ignore the
remark. Like I said before, individually, I respect and like the FEI vets
and officials.

> I would like to know who Ms. Gabbani is referring to: "the people
> who don't
> run an honest race", and "riders hopping into 4x4s...while
> someone else rode
> the horse"?  I met and briefly chatted with Ms. Gabbani on the day of the
> ride and saw her at various times throughout the day.  At no time did she
> mention any irregularities or make a protest to me or any of the other FEI
> officials.  I feel sure that she must be aware of the FEI Protest
> Procedure.
The person who mentioned this to me was, in fact, a man who knows nothing
about endurance riding and who was out on the track of return for the first
loop looking for a car that had broken down.  He didn't speak to me until
late in the day when he asked if it was part of the race to get off and ride
in a car for a while. As for protests and irregularities, been there and
done that.  People who did ask about protests were told that they could file
them with a 200 Swiss Franc fee, etc. Foreign exchange here is tough. And
this gentleman had nothing to gain one way or another by asking the
question...he was merely trying to understand what he was seeing. He doesn't
know anything about the rules of endurance racing.
> To state that "His Excelleny started a loop before another rider
> whose horse
> had vetted before HE's"  after "having local horses shoo-ed out of the
> vetting area when HE wanted to vet his horse", is absolutely ludicrous and
> completely untrue.
> Ms. Gabbani is  casting doubts not only on the credibility of Sheikh
> Mohammed, but also on the FEI Vets and Officials concerned.  To my mind, a
> serious accusation.
The remarks about the vetting procedures were made to me by a couple of
competitors and some individuals (not Egyptian and experienced with
endurance) who were watching. Not being able to ask permission to quote them
by name, consider the remarks withdrawn. The most serious accusation that
can be made concerning the rides in Egypt and the officiating of them is in
reference to the FEI General Rules and Regulations Article 162, the articles
concerning conflict of interest.....the final point of which states that the
articles of the rules governing conflict of interest may be deviated from by
the Executive Board " In exceptional circumstances and in order to promote
the best interests of the sport...". I'm sure that this is considered one of
those occasions. However, most of our riders will make a point of not using
their own vets to check their horses at our casual rides where there is no
international ranking and no prize at stake. Maybe we are being too
sensitive to the issue of conflict of interest....

>  Vets and officials rarely know who the rider of a horse
> is when it is presented for vetting, and, if they did know, it
> would make no
> difference to them.
Please.....Sheikh Mohamed has insisted on wearing number 7 in every ride
here. Of course everyone knows whose horse it is when it comes in with a
huge 7 on its butt....which is not to say that it is automatically judged
differently. I couldn't say anything about that.

> In the case of Sheikh Mohammed, he rarely enters the
> vet-gate when his horse is presented.  When he first took up endurance
> riding, crowds of people would follow him into the vet-gate, giving the
> officials an embarrassing crowd-control problem.  He quickly realised the
> problem and decided to forego the pleasure of seeing his horse vetted.
> Then, "the ride dismantled before locals could finish".  This, if it
> happened,  surely was a problem of the Organising Committee.

I'm sure that things were done to expedite the cleanup.  Last year it was
certainly a problem. This year they were more careful and as Ghislaine was
the last rider on the third loop, I assumed that the truck dismantling the
water stop had made sure that she'd passed before removing the water. No
complaints there.

> I do know that
> Dr. Martha Mischef (Treatment Vet) was concerned that the  Clinic
> Tent might
> be taken down too early.  However, I spoke to General Samy Negm
> El Din (O.C.
> and very helpful), and he arranged for the tent to be left up
> overnight.  In
> the event, it was not needed, as all horses were discharged shortly after
> the end of the race.
And we were very pleased to see that since the one fatality  last year was a
Jordanian horse whose groom inadvertently gave it TOO MUCH fluid IV and the
poor thing essentially died of overwatering. That wasn't the fault of the
vets, at all, but possibly misunderstanding on the part of the horse owner.
There were stories of other horses with problems after last years race, but
I can't say that they were true.  In fact, in general the vetting standards
this year meant that on the whole the horses were  healthier after the race.

> What a pity that Ms. Gabbani and the EEF President did not turn up for the
> awards ceremony. It was quite a party.  Sheikh Mohammed was
> certainly there,
> enjoying himself, surrounded by competitors, officials and.....Egyptian
> dignitaries.  Apparently, this is when HE prefers to socialise.
Actually, as neither a competitor nor an organisor, I wasn't invited, and I
have to admit that by the time I'd gotten my radiator problem out of the
way, I was hardly fit for decent company and would have been about 2 hours
late. No hard feelings. I'm sure that there were a lot of Egyptian
dignitaries.....if there's one thing Egypt has aplenty, it's dignitaries,
and I'm glad they all had a good time. They had a good time for a  couple of
days, in fact, at dinners and receptions like the one at which the Arab
League named Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum "Horseman of  the
Century". Not bad.  Actually, as background colour, I think the dignitaries
are much more appropriate than the riders.
> In my opinion open mail with unsubstantiated accusations is a
> very dangerous
> practice, and certainly does nothing to help endurance riding in Egypt.
> Constructive criticism is always welcome but "bar-room gossip" is
> destructive.
Not spending as much time in bar-rooms as I do in board rooms, I wouldn't
know about the last comment. However, I do admit that what I wrote in my
first post was a compilation of my experience, concerns and discussions with
participants and spectators. On some of Carol's points I must concede that
my immediate impressions were wrong, while on others because I cannot quote
eyewitnesses my comments must be taken with a grain of  salt ... they
wouldn't stand up in court or in a proper publication. There are, however,
other points which I feel should be taken into account. In all likelihood
the Egyptian Equestrian Federation and the UAE federation will kiss  and
make up and there will be a race next year....right now it is the EEF
position that they would be happy to have another ride next year, but they
would prefer that the UAE simply not pay for it.  If there is, my prediction
and hope is that there are very few Egyptian finishers because our horses
are not yet ready for this level and/or style of competition.

Maryanne Stroud Gabbani
Nobody in Particular
Cairo, Egypt

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