September 16, 2013, Most, Czech Republic ~ As the 88 competitors representing 23 countries left the start it was minus the current European Champion, Spain’s Maria Alverez Ponton and her steady champion mount, Nobby. Husband, Juma Punti Dachs, commented that after the recent birth of their third child, Anna, his wife did not currently feel fit enough to compete in a 160km Championship.
From the onset Dachs was up front and with a broad smile he crossed the finish to yet again have the family name on the winners trophy. Riding the 9-year old French-bred grey stallion, Quran El Ulm, he won the Meydan FEI European Championship in 7h 42m 40s ( 20.879kmph). Quran El Ulm (Ulm de Domenjoi x Movoska by Persik)
Another name missing from the line-up was that of HH Sh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, winner of the test ride last year, who is recovering from a leg injury. So the question was could the UAE’s Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri retain his crown of Open European Champion. After a closely fought contest between the Middle East countries it was Sh Rashid Bin Dalmook All Maktoum who stormed ahead to win the Open Gold trophy for the UAE in 7h 24m 44s ( 21.721kmph). Sh Rashid was riding the Australian-bred 14-year-old bay mare, *Yamanah (Kurrajong Concorde), on whom he won the silver medal at the 2012 World Championships. It was 17 minutes later that Al Jahouri won the Open Silver riding the 9-year-old Polish-bred, Farak, on whom his son finished second in the 160km HH The President UAE Endurance Cup this year.
They were just a few seconds ahead of HH Sh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa of Bahrain, who won Open Bronze aboard the 8-year-old Dhab, bred in the Czech Republic and winner of last years World Championship for Young Horses in Hungary. Then came the European hero, Dachs, who finished more than three minutes ahead of Jean Philippe Frances, winner of Silver for France riding Qrafik La Majorie. It was thirteen minutes later that Poland’s, Kamila Kart riding the French-bred and owned chestnut mare, Railades Sables, stole the Bronze medal in a race to line with Frenchman Philippe Tomas. The GB team hopes of a medal were dashed when their rider Emma Finnie, holding the bronze medal position at the end of the fifth stage, was eliminated underweight.
The vet gate was at the racecourse in Most, located close to the western border of the Czech Republic with Germany. Most is a town were agriculture and industry live side by side. This was very evident on the third loop as the track crossed close to the open mining for brown coal that is used at the numerous power stations in this area. The course was quite flat with little undulation over farm tracks and paths with a considerable amount of hard and stony going. The last two loops were the same and many part of the course were repeated several times. The weather was dry and warm.
From the onset the riders from the Middle East set the pace and held the lead positions in the team rankings. All this changed with the Oman team dropping behind the French after loop four and at the vetting after the penultimate loop eliminations for Bahrain put them out of the team event. At the start of the last loop the UAE were still ahead of the French but only two would finish with their third horse Nicos, ridden by Abdulla Ghanim Al Marri, being retired on course.
Defending Team France were again crowned the European Gold Champions – composed of Virginie Atger on Milah de Jalima; Jean-Philippe Frances on Qrafik la Marjorie; Melody Theolissat on Azelle de Jalima, and Philippe Tomas on Quotien Persky.
Silver, Team Spain, Bronze, Team Italy.
The last of the 34 who finished were the Scandinavian duo of Sweden, Yvonne Ekelund and Norwegian Charlotte Kromann Rasmussen in 11h 4m 33s( 14.54kmph).
The awards were presented the following day by Ian Williams FEI Director of Endurance. Best condition was awarded to the Open winner, Yamanah (Kurrajong Concord), originally trained in Australia by Meg Wade and Chris Gates of Castlebar Endurance.
*Note: Yamanah or Kurranjong Concord (Chip Chase Sadaqa x Franklin Rajul) Quilty Individual Silver and Team Gold, June 2011 in South Australia.
Than you Gilly Wheeler photos and text: www.photogilly.com