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Meydan FEI European Endurance Championship for Young Riders & Juniors 2016

Imke Lamsma pix

Spanish Sweep FEI European Endurance Championship for Young Riders and Juniors in Portugal

Paula Muntala Sanchez (ESP), aged 21, riding 10-year old part-Arabian Echo Falls secured individual gold and also guided her team to gold at the 120km FEI European Endurance Championship for Young Riders and Juniors in Rio Frio, Portugal on 3 September. (FEI/Endurance in the World) FEI.org

5 Sep 2016
By Pamela Burton

The Spanish athlete Paula Muntala Sanchez riding 10-year-old part-Arabian Echo Falls emerged victorious after the 120km Meydan FEI European Endurance Championship for Young Riders and Juniors in Portugal, leading the Spanish team to gold as well.

Held at the Rio Frio Equestrian Centre, 38 athletes aged between 14 and 21 from 11 countries left in a mass start at 06:30 on Saturday, 3 September. The competition circled in four loops of 40, 30, 30 and 20kms, with gates and veterinary inspection areas on each loop.

The young but seasoned, Sanchez, aged 21, completed the ride in 05:14:57 with an average speed of 22.86 kph riding though the heat of the day, which reached 30°C with 40% humidity.

The all-female Spanish team came into each vet gate within minutes of each other, pulsed down and left in the same way, and arrived at the finish just after Sanchez, placing 2nd - 5th individually in this order: Laura Fernandez Piña on Cadigaam, Bruna Pujols Aumatell on Lludriga De Masferrer, Raquel Costa Condina on Kalima Casanova and Naroa Calvo Ibáñez on Escarsi.

“The plan was to be strong with all the team from the beginning to ensure that at least one of our team members could be in the medals,” said Sanchez after the ride.

Although this did not happen to her, Sanchez stated what might have been the biggest challenge on the ride: “To lose a shoe is a problem because you lose time, and it is difficult to recover in such flat terrain as the one in Rio Frio. The biggest strength of my 10-year-old Appaloosa is in his character. He saves energy during the competition, which allows him to have a quick recovery at the end of each loop.”

When asked about her future endurance goals, Sanchez replied: “My goal is to improve my performance and hopefully to continue as a team member for Spain.”

Echo Falls is by the full Arabian stallion Tango D’Ayres by the legendary Persik out of the Appaloosa mare, Song of Wind.

Spanish cavalry led the way

Heading out in the first wave of the mass start, Spain’s Sanchez and her teammates blended like a grey cavalry into the low fog of early morning as they led the way for the first 40km loop.

The five athletes took possession of the race from the start, never leaving first position throughout, but knew they were being chased by France’s Henriette D Ursel on Wloszka Fontanel and Emma Frances on Quokin De PSA.

João Maria Moura riding Distinto for Portugal kept within five minutes of the first seven riders throughout the course and he was followed by Italy’s Costanza Laliscia on Rok and Camilla Coppini on Veinard Secondo. Great Britain’s hopes were dashed early on as they lost all three riders by vet gate two.

Besides host Portugal, athletes represented Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Spain.

Seven teams started and five teams completed. A course completion of 57% finished the last rider, Imke Lamsma from The Netherlands riding Sjacour in the ride time of 07:43:12 with an average speed of 15.54 kph.

The FEI European Endurance Championship for Young Riders and Juniors is an important foundation for future top Endurance riders. The last edition of this Championship was in 2014 in Verona, Italy. To compete, athletes must have successfully completed at least 3 CEI 2* events or higher.

Manuel Bandeira de Mello, FEI Endurance Director said of the competition: “It was a fantastic day of top quality sport. The Spanish team led the ride from the very beginning showing their supremacy, and the high skill of the athletes and the horses proved that even with a very technical track, a 57% completion rate could be achieved.”

Rui Amante, President of the Ground Jury in Rio Frio commented: “The venue is fantastic and the event went very smoothly. The most important aspect is that the fair play of the 37 competitors was truly amazing for Juniors and Young riders. I am very happy with the outcome of this event.”

Rio Frio - the venue

The trails of mostly sandy soil went through ancient cork oak forest, around thriving vineyards and between irrigated rice paddies, allowing for many natural water spots and easy access points for crews. The public could also view the athletes in viewing areas designated along the national roads. This route has been in use and tested since 2014. The Rio Frio Equestrian Centre is located on the southern bank of the Tagus Estuary, 30km from the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.

Results - top ten individuals

1. Paula Muntala Sanchez, Echo Falls (ESP) - finish time 05:14:57
2. Laura Fernandez Piña, Cadigaam (ESP) - finish time 05:14:58
3. Bruna Pujols Aumatell, Lludriga De Masferrer (ESP) - finish time 05:14:59
4. Raquel Costa Condina, Kalima Casanova (ESP) - finish time 05:15:00
5. Naroa Calvo Ibáñez, Escarsi (ESP) - finish time 05:15:05
6. Henriette, D Ursel, Wloszka Fontanel (FRA) - finish time 05:34:10
7. Emma Frances, Quokin De PSA (FRA) - finish time 05:34:11
8. Maria Moura João, Distinto (POR) - finish time 05:45:18
9. Constanza Laliscia, Rok (ITA) - finish time 06:08:32
10. Camilla Coppini, Veinard Secondo (ITA) - finish time 06:08:33

Results - top three teams

*Teams count the highest-placed three members for classification
1. Spain - finish time: 15:44:54
2. Italy - finish time: 19:04:10
3. Portugal - finish time: 19:40:47
*Also finished: Belgium (finish time 19:57:53) & Netherlands (finish time 20:42:03).

A Recap by Dutch rider Imke Lamsma

a google translation, you'll get the gist!

Saturday morning the alarm went at quarter past four. Lei had already fed the horses and at half past seven, we would start. At six o'clock we sat on it to warm to ride. Liselore went up front with the group, Jorrit, Ljjou and I started in all the rest behind the group.

The first loop (40 km) was actually very nice. We rode the three of us together. First time all the way back but in the course of the round, we took in a number of riders. Conner and Akis had something harder than Sjacour so we had to stop in in a couple bijgalopperen. Ah, well, a little variety. Thank God it was so early still fine to do in terms of temperature, and even a little bit foggy all the way through which we were chilled haha.

During the second loop (30 km) went Ljjou and Jorrit started earlier than me because we need a little more time at the vetcheck. We decided to get back in and still a galoperen loop to ride together. I don't believe it for the other two horsemen much cared for, but good, Sjacour and me, it was nice to still be a little bit together to be able to drive. Good for the motivation, especially now that it is increasingly warmer also began to be.

In the second vetgate (after 70 km) ran Sjacour just slightly less nice during the vetcheck which we decided to have the third round right but what to take you back in pace. In the meantime, it was above 36 degrees and because Akis and Conner something above his pace went this seemed the best option. Unfortunately, all the other riders who behind me reason already rejected. This meant so that we in the last 50 miles in the heat would have to go alone.

The Trail was (to my amazement) pretty varied. Happy but, that really made it a lot less boring to ride alone. Every now and then we drove between the cows, sometimes they were in the middle of the road and we had to chase away them first before we could get past it. All those crazy cows kept it for Sjacour also a little interesting .

The Sand was on some pieces best Mel but I noticed that actually still pretty bad. It must have been worse! The route went through rice paddies, through the sand along all the cork trees and along several lakes. I really thought it was a great game!

The last vetgate (after 100 km) ran Sjacour happy again much better. He was getting tired anyway, so it was very warm haha. We decided to have the last round also, continue to drive. Our goal was finishing, win wasn't possible anymore since the Spaniards to me during the last entry in vetgate over race for the final sprint. Respect hear those horses, there were still super bee!

And there we go, then, the last loop in. What a weird feeling, and what will such a day go by fast. Only the last round, then again it seems endless. "you only need a kennismakingsklasse trainingsrondje, a 20 km" I tell myself and Sjacour then.

5 km.. Yeah! Miranda and Laura in sight! Just around the bend along the rice paddies and then we'll be there. Sjacour gets water bottles all over themselves, a bucket of water against his butt aangegooid and we are on the road again. 10 km.. Grooms! That works really well motivating hear during such a last, warm round.

15 km.. Sofie is waving to us with the camera in her hand. Sjacour and I both get another drink and a bottle of cold water in our neck and then we're on our way to the finish line.

During the last 5 km I start only to realise that it is now really is almost over. Our first European Championship. We'll save at least until the finish line. Yeah, we were the last combination in the route and everyone had to wait for us but that made me crazy enough not so very much. We had the best of it, made sure I knew that.

1 km to the vetgate / finish line. All the images of today just flashes through my head. Breathe Easy, keep smiling and hope for the best. I come around the bend and hear that there are people on their feet. A lot of people. That's not what I had expected haha. I assumed that everyone with his own horse and busy doing other things and that would be just my groom team would be present.

Joyce was already done with the Dutch flag in her hand. From a jog I grabbed it and Sjacour jumped out to himself in a smooth canter, so motivated, I hadn't seen him yet during the last loop. He knew he was almost there.

Encouraged by a lot of Dutch people we came over the line. What a cool feeling, we'll be there. We did it. Chilling. By going to the test. And then it gets yet secretly back a little bit exciting. I had felt nothing weird on the way, but still.. you never know.

Heartbeat. All right.

Final vet check. Okay, I believe that he has to run good. He trudging a little, but he's good.

One of the veterinarians walks up to me and get all the notes of that day, out of his pocket. "yeah, you gotta help me, I can't remember which. Well, the good is" he said. And that's when I knew it. Such jokes don't if it's wrong. And yes, approved!

Wow, what a horse and what a great team. Thank you Sjacour and also thank you to everyone who has helped us. Without you this was not done! ️

Wow, I'm so proud of sjacour.

Finish line after 120 km during the European Championship for juniors in Rio Frio (Portugal). Despite the warm weather (35 + degrees) he has really done a huge amount.

All Dutch people are well finished what has created a 5nd place for the team. Individually, we're in 21th place.

Thanks to a super groom team!

From 2 to 4 of September

The FEI European Endurance Championship for Young Riders and Juniors is organized every two years. It is one of the most important European competitions, leading to the discovery of promising young Endurance riders.

Particularly directed for riders between 14 and 21 years, its an important foundation of future professional Endurance riders.

The last edition was in 2014, in Verona, Italy.

This year, for the first time, this competition will take place in Portugal, in the Rio Frio Equestrian pole, from 2 to 4 of September. Over 20 countries are expected to bring over 100 riders and a total of 400 participants.

It’s a 120km competition in several counter clock phases, where the rider’s ability to manage the horse’s effort is tested, along with the horse’s speed and resistance. At the end of each phase, a veterinary inspection takes place.

Endurance is becoming a popular discipline throughout the world, and is nowadays, not only the second biggest equestrian discipline in competition number and participants, but the highest growing. According to FEI, more than 900 Endurance competitions are held every year, and the discipline has more than 6000 riders and 10000 horses registered.


September 1st – Opening Ceremony and fraternization dinnerSeptember 2nd – Veterinary Inspections


8pm – Dinner and award delivery

Meet Dutch Young Rider Imke Lamsma