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2007 H.H. The President's Cup for Junior & Young Riders

Bou Thib Endurance Village - UAE 10 Feb 2007 100km - 54 starters, 17 finishers
Link to full UAE Event Coverage

First place (3:47:22)
Omair Husain ABdulla Al Bloushi, UAE, Al Reef Stables, riding 9yr old Charlandre El Sharif.

Gallery of Photos

Ali Ghahnim Al Marri, UAE, on 14yr old horse Little Joe Fox, Sh. Hamdan Bin Mohd Al Maktoum stable
Sh. Abdul Aziz Bin Faisal Al Qasimi, UAE on Kalkadoon Kampala, Sh. Faisal Bin Saqr Al Qasimi stable

The first foreign riders, in 5, 7th and 9th place are from the Czech Republic:
Marketa Terberova on Charlie Rach
owned by Sh. Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Katerina Kysela on Ramalea Captain Starlight
owned by Sh. Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Petra Trojakova on Mora Camelia
owned by Sh Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan

The Story

February 10, 2007 United Arab Emirates
A courageous and determined young Sheikha from UAE, a Texas Cowboy, and four young women riders made history for USEF Endurance at the H.H. The President's Cup for Junior and Young Riders. In the predawn light at Bou Thib Endurance Village, United Arab Emirates, Jennifer Stevens, Heather Stevens, Brittany Dial and Ashlee Lynn Van Raalte set out to challenge the 60 mile course with a field of 50 other Junior and Young riders from around the world. The young women set their horses to gentle canter as the sky lightened, and stayed well back, away from the highly competitive field; their goal was to complete the course, and to represent the USA well at this important International event.

A tight support crew guided by Chef d'Equipe Mark 'Cowboy' Dial and Sheikha Madiya bint Hasher Mana Al Maktoum ensured their success. (background on Shka Madiya) Sheikha Madiya's Get Tuff or Die Al Maktoum Stable provided three of the four horses that the young women rode. The fourth horse was owned by Ali Saeed Abdulla Hawas Al Ameri and trained by Fazza Endurance Team. Three of the four USA ridden horses completed the course, a tremendous acheivement representing 17% of the entire field of finishing riders.

This was the 3rd running of the President's Cup for Junior and Young Riders, an event which is gaining world wide stature and popularity. The event is organized with the patronage of HH Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Bou Thib Endurance Village and Al Wrsan Endurance Team, prominent players in UAE Endurance,are key to the event's success. The event is an International invitational competition. The Organizing Committee , chaired by H.E. Mohamed S. Al Neyadi, invited Junior and Young Riders from around the world to compete in the event on UAE horses. The young riders are provided with accomodation at Bou Thib Endurance Village. The horses are owned by various stables and individuals, and each horse comes with a skilled support team. It is an opportunity for these kids to see another part of the world, meet new friends, and use their years of experience to guide a foreign horse around a challenging foriegn course.

Despite their youth, the young USA riders represented a combined experience of thousands of miles and many years of Endurance competition. Heather Stevens, from Ashland, Montana, was a member of the 2006 USA Training Squad, and one of the short list of riders selected for the 2006 WEC in Aachen. She also rode for the USA in the 2006 Presidents Cup for seniors. For younger sister Jennifer Stevens, this was a first experience at riding overseas. Ashlee Van Raalte from Scales Mounds, Illinois, learned Endurance riding from Grace Ramsey and Jan Worthington, neighbors and long-time Endurance riders. They taught her the sport, and provided her with horses and riding opportunity through her years of gathering experience. Ashley represented the USA at the World Endurance Championship for Junior & Young Riders in Bahrain in 2005. Brittany Dial, daughter of Chef d' Equipe Mark Dial has been riding for the past 7 years.

Heather, Jennifer and Ashley completed the event just after 2pm, with ride times of 5:52, 6:18:21 and 6:18:24. Brittany's horse was eliminated for lamenss early in the event, but she spent the remainder of the day crewing for her team. The girls maintained a gentle working canter with their horses throughout the day. In the UAE Endurance is fast paced and the horses are trained to peak fitness. In order to compete, it is necessary to maintain a fast steady speed throughout the day. There is abundant water on the trail, with frequent check points and thousands of cases of bottled water to pour over the horses as they pass through the check points. At the veterinary holds the crewing is aggressive, with copious amounts of water used to cool the horses as they come in off the trail. The veterinarians are strict, and maintain a careful watch over the field of horses. As the speed increases, so does the risk to the horse, and there is no leniancy when deciding which horses are healthy and handing the competition adequately, considered 'fit to continue'. Out of the starting field of 54 riders, only 17 met the highest veterinary standards to complete the course.

The USA ridden horses were well off of the winning pace of 3:47:22, but they finished in a respectable time, in good health and with bright attitudes, and this itself is a wonderful accomplishment - reflecting the wise race strategy set by the Chef d'Equipe ,and reflecting the peak fitness of the horses and the smart crew support provide by the Sheikha's Get Tuff or Die Endurance team!