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European Endurance Championship Open - Assisi - Italy 2009

Winner - Maria Alvarez Ponton and Nobby

Photos by Leonard Liesens/Caroll Gatelier - www.endurance-belgium.com

24 September

24 September

25 September

Sept 25th – after the trotting

Bad luck for Bahrain at the trotting as Khandela had to trot a second time. The mare passed but the team finally decided to switch for another horse. According to our latest information, Sh Nazer will be riding Kanda Koy, another French horse.

Apart from that we are waiting for the chef d’equipe to communicate the list of the 4 couples who will ride in team.

Everyone expects a technical ride with many hazards, especially during the first loop who will be covered completely in the dark. Flag-off at 5AM.


Leonard, www.endurance-belgium.com

Friday 25 September 2009

Yesterday, there was the presentation of the teams in the heart of the medieval city of Assisi. An amazing show preceded the ceremony: medieval dances, flags games, historical costumes. When it goes about preserving their cultural heritage : the beautiful, the fashionable, the cultural, la “balla figura”… Italy is the best. Assisi is exceptional, you can’t see any building which is not in the style of the city, gelateria, trattoria; restaurants, fashion shops, cafes are all installed at the ground floor of these exceptional buildings and palaces.

Without speaking about all local dignitaries and VIP in fancy dress. Never saw as many people in fancy dress and as many fashion ladies at an endurance event… different.

Now back to the sport…

Maria Alvarez, the reigning World Champion is among the favorites with her small Nobby. He is a difficult horse as Maria says : “He can bite, he can take a full gallop without any warning, but he is such a warrior” she said. “I tried all possible bits on him and finally I had to opt for a curb bit to get a chance to eventually stop him”. “Nobby stayed with me in Dubai for the winter and has been intensively trained in deep sand”. He is a small horse, perfectly build, able to cruise at 24kph at 120BPM without tiring. Maria claims he is 149cm, but this is hard to believe. He must be closer to 146cm. Anyway, he is a champion. “He is a bit looking like Rio when saddled and at work and Becky agreed with me”. So Maria could be the first European to cross the finish line. She will not take care for the open championship, no reason to fight for that, the European title is more important.

France is THE favorite for the team competition, but presents also strong candidates for the individual title. Hanaba is the reigning European Champion. This mare took 3rd place this year at the CEIO of Compiegne at 20.5kph, while Hadia de Jalima was second at Rambouillet. Akim du Boulve is a very reliable team horse who counts already 3 selections in the French team. In fact all French horses are capable of winning this race.

Belgium’s Poespass won last year the CEIO of Gubbio and can tease the leaders, but his buddy from the Belgian team Rukban Dikruhu who got 10th place in Malaysia will also be a strong contender.

For the open championship, Bahrain presents a very, very strong team. Khandela des Vialettes (previously owned by the Mosti-Miletto family) won the CEIO of Compiègne this spring on board Laurent Mosti. The coupled wasn’t chosen by the French chef d’equipe so the horse was sold to Bahrain. HH Sh Nasser will probably ride Khandela. The question now is to know how this strong horse more suited for fast flat race will do in the technical and difficult parts of this circuit. Kheopsy, another Bahraini horse, won Newmarket last year and clinched 6th place this year in Compiegne. A very good team horse. Ganda Koy is now 13yr; this shagya mare won Florac in 2003 and also Newmarket this year.

The UAE team is also very strong, even if two Maktoum’s rider are not in the team. Koum did 5th place in Malaysia last year and looks strong. Castelbar Sobia was in the UAE team at Babolna and took 2nd place.

OK… soon we will get the trotting… more later…

Leonard, www.endurance-belgium.com

Reporter Extraordinaire Leonard Liesens sends his first report from Assisi, home to the 2009 European Endurance Championship Open

Thursday 24 September 2009

All horses have now arrived at the venue. An amazing venue of several huge tents accommodating the restaurants, the place for holding events, the commercial stands. Then of course also the VIP tents and the tents installed for Malaysia, Bahrain, and UAE.

The venue is installed on a plain, surrounded by hills. On one hill, the medieval city of Assisi (World Heritage) that will probably intensively be used by photograph as background.

The trail has been described as "tricky" by all teams who pre-rode it. A lot of asphalt roads, some dangerous parts to be ridden on the first loop in the dark. Among the favorites : Maria Alvarez and Nobby, reigning World Champions, HE Sh Nasser from Bahrain on board Khandela des Vialettes (this horse is one of the best of the world, but the question is "how will he perform on this technical going"), current European Champion Jean-Philippe Frances on Hanaba du Bois.

There will be two vetgates, one at the venue and one abroad that will be used for all loops except the last one.

This evening, the opening ceremony with the presentation of the teams (on the central square of Assisi), then the gala dinner. Tomorrow the real things will start with the trotting of the horses, the chef d’equipe meeting and the preparation work of the crews.


Leonard Liesens, www.endurance-belgium.com

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