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Endurance.Net Home 2007 Sultan's Cup: Charlie

Part I || Part II || Part III || Part IV || Part V || Final

Malaysia Story, Part II

So... in 2005 Malaysia was granted the bid to host the 2008 FEI World Endurance, construction of the Terengganu International Endurance Park (TIEP) began, and everything was a 'go'. But wait... there were doubts. Malaysia?? Impossible - this is the tropics, it can't be done. A World Championship in the tropics has never been done, it is too hot, horses will suffer, the world doesn't want a WEC in the tropics, it can't be done safely. Yes it Can. Then Prove It.

And so began the effort on the part of Malaysia to show the world - and FEI - that a WEC could be held successfully - and safely - in the tropics, in Malaysia. Two years of moving forward with the construction of the Terengganu International Endurance Park, two years of hosting rides in Terengganu, two years in which Malaysia made every possible effort to prove to the world (and to themselves) that the 2008 WEC rightfully belonged in Malaysia.

The first real 'public' test was Sultans Cup 2006 ( http://www.endurance.net/international/2006terengganu/ ). Previous 160km events had few entries, and low completion rates - there were simply not very many 160km horses and riders in Malaysia. So the 2006 Sultan's Cup was to be an invitational ride - experienced foreign riders were invited, to ride local horses (no foreign horses would be shipped for this event). The FEI officials were part of the test - observations would be made, riders would be interviewed, everyone was in observation mode. The result of the 160km event: 23 starters, 13 finishers - 57% completion rate. Winning time 12:38 (12.65km/hr). Only 1 horse was pulled for metabolic reasons - a mild colic quickly resolved. Everything ran well - the bottom line was that horses could run 160km in the tropics.

But still the FEI was not ready to commit to Malaysia. One more test. Malaysia had to prove that horses could be shipped from around the world, adapt to the conditions, and then run 160km. The 2007 Sultans Cup would be the final test - horse and riders would be shipped from Europe, North America, South America, Middle East... housed for 3 to 4 weeks - horse/rider/groom - Malaysia would pay for everything. And then - unless 40% of the invited riders completed there would be no 2008 WEC in Malaysia. With so much already invested, and so much to lose, Malaysia doubled their efforts and determined to do everything in their power to make it happen. Professionals, lawyers, state and national involvement... This was not simply a sporting event at stake. With the country's King involved - both as a competitor and as a host - it was also a matter of National pride and a moment when Malaysia would take center stage in a world arena.

Then next public affair for the WEC 2008 was the World Forum on Endurance in Paris, France - March 31 ( http://www.endurance.net/international/2007feiforum/ ). Delegates came from around the world to represent their National Federations. There would be meetings and workshops to discuss all of the issues facing the sport of Endurance. And Malaysia created a very big presence at this affair. They hosted a dinner for all attendees,presented a slide show of Malaysia, the sport, the nation and traditions... and a very public '2008 WEC Signing Ceremony - the Handing Over of the FEI Flag'. The Organizing Committee was there in force, also the Malaysian ministers of Sports and Tourism. This was just a ceremony, the real contract signing happened elsewhere - But this was Malaysia's way of saying 'We are serious about this and we want the world to know it.'

With the World Forum behind them, all energy was now to be focused on the final test event. An experienced show director was hired, committees were organized, jobs were delegated, everything was now to focus on the final test event, the Sultan's Cup Terengganu International Endurance Challenge 2007. There was another brief scare when FEI Technical committee announced a new set of qualifications for a Malaysian WEC: horses and riders must earn their CoC (Certificate of Capability) qualification by finishing a 160km ride in 15km/hr (about 10 1/2 hours ride time). Previous CoC was 12km/hr (13 1/2 hours)- this would require very fast ride times - and would basically preclude Malaysia from qualifying and competiting in it's own WEC! At that point the fastest 160km time recorded was 12.6 km/hr, it would be virtually impossible for Malaysians to qualify without going outside the country - and few could afford to do so. This proposal was not very well received and many of us were wondering why the FEI kept changing the game...

But I suppose all's well that end's well. The FEI dropped the 15km/hr CoC idea (see final qualifications). The 2007 Sultan's Cup - the official final Final test event and WEC pre-ride went even better than anybody could have imagined, and in the end, Malaysia will host the 2008 FEI World Endurance Championship, November 6-9 2008, at the Terengganu International Endurance park, Terengganu, Malaysia.

- more later on the Amazing 2007 Sultans Cup -