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Dubai - my report

Hi there

!!!  please disregard the spelling or english errors !!!!!
I'm still in the air so increadibly happy about our team result; well a little bit disapointed about nor getting the bronze as announced by the organizing committee at the finish. 

The whole computer system has been a total mess and everyone was deseperatly looking for information.
Would we have known about our position relatively to our competitors, then we would have speed up a little bit in place of loosing time at the vet or on the trail. But the race is gone and it's too simple to re-ride it...


We choosed as tactic to start carefully and try to walk in the dunes and canter as often as possible. Orfeo was cantering at a HRM value ranging from 100 to 115 on hard sand (maybe we could navigate faster without spending much more energy... but who knows :). 
Our horse were not drinking for the whole first loop; they only start drinking at the first vetgate.

I remember the wait for the start being close to Val and Danielle and their horse start peing; seing this orfeo did too... thanks Val!

At the first vet, we took only 2 min to be ready at 60 beat per min.

At the second loop, we where sppeding up and covered about the whole 35 km at the canter, stopping at each water point for letting the horse drink and taking water from the pakistani helpers (thanks guys, you did a great job... they where really very sympathic!!!). The water they gave WAS MINERAL WATER packed in 1,5 liter bottles!!! Amazing isn't it???
During this loop we were catching and passing a lot of riders. We were only concerned about our 4th horse, Jezabel who was panting very much. At the 2nd vetgate, she took a long time to recover, pass the vetcheck, but her crew and our vet decided to pull (good decision for her wellfare).
Orfeo and Krizzia  (half sister and brothers - same sire) recovered very fast; Greece took more time .

At the third loop, we were loosing about a quarter discussing about the new tactic : would we go in front with Krizzia and Orfeo, leaving Greece behing ? No, we decided to keep the initial team tactic and eventually slow down for Greece.

Third loop was announced as very difficult. the first 15 Km were only hard sand that we covered by cantering all the time. then we got lots of sand dunes that we manegd to pass by trotting in the bush, looking for harder sand compared to the trail. I think this was a good decision because we passed a lot a riders. at the end of the 3rd loop, we could catch and pass the whole british team which had choosen for the same tactic (stay all together). Temperature was VERY HIGH, but dry (about 40/45 degrees celsius)
Again, we had to wait a little bit for Greece (he is a half trotter, half arab and didn't probably managed the heat as well as our arabs). 

Fourth loop... again hard sand for 15 Kms with lot of canter and trot. Orfeo was in great shape pullig the others. Then the darkness... very few markings (only one floashing light every 2 Km, placed without any consistency sometimes at the left sometimes at the right part of the 'trail'. We had to do cross country with all the risks. We where loosing a lot of time because we could only trot very slowly. We catched once again the british team (they departed in front of us... don't know why... recovering time ??? or probably we starter too late ... don't remember) who was in the dark without any flash lights and we covered the rest of the loop alltogether, chating and joking (belgian men and british women ... :))))

Thenjust before departing for the last loop, Marja Perringerard (french team ... arrived at 11th place) told us that we where competing for the bronze.
We left the vet at full galop. I'm sure Orfeo was knowing this was the last effort and the last loop. We was incredibly spirited (What a horse). I had to wait all the time for the others. We were accompagnied (like the other teams) with a 4x4 of our crew lighting the trail and could trot and canter in order to keep enough distance with the british team which was behind.

at 3or 4 km from the finish, we cath a rider (danish) that I learn afterwards (by Steph) it was Len Hollander (not sure of the spelling). Her horse was fully exhausted but she tried to follow us.

I heard that she was pulled at the finish (poor women).

The last 500 meters was covered at full galop, hand in hand withour 3 horses.

Incredible moment of my live!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Orfeo was checked the last... everyone keeping his breath and when the vet made the positive sign, this was the explosion... we where thinking we got the bronze (this was even confirmed by the secretariat, but they were wrong).

Steph was as happy as we were. Thank you Steph, you did and incredible job taking care of Orfeo and keeping everybody cool, together with Luc, my son.

Finally Belgium was 5th and first european nation. We have at this time only 5 100 miles horse in our country and no more than 30 riders doing 50 or 75 miles rides. Not bad!

Best regards

Leonard, from Belgium

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