August 27, 2012, Newmarket, UK – Saturday, August 25 started out pleasant at Euston Park, but throughout the day the weather deteriorated into heavy downpours and severe thunderstorms. Due to the extreme weather, officials had to call the race off for the safety of the horses and riders. In an unusual finish to an endurance race, several riders were placed based on the position they were in at the time that the race was called, but the majority of the riders finished the sixth and final loop.
The U.S. Team made quite a showing against stiff competition finishing in fourth place with a combined time of 24:45:00. Valerie Kanavy (Fort Valley, VA) was the first member of the team to finish with Reach For The Gold in 20th place with a time of 08:00:06. Jeremy Reynolds (Dunnellon, FL) and A Kutt Above were right behind her, finishing in 21st place with a time of 08:00:09. Heather Reynolds (Dunnellon, FL) and Riverwatch finished in 36th place with a time of 08:44:45. John Crandell III (West River, MD) was unable to finish the race when Heraldic did not pass the mandatory re-check at Vet Check 5.
Margaret “Meg” Sleeper (Frenchtown, NJ) and Syrocco Reveille had an amazing day at Euston Park. Sleeper was the first U.S. rider to cross the finish line, finishing in 11th place with a time of 07:49:11. The pair had an average speed of 20.46 kph.
“The weather didn’t affect us too much,” said Sleeper. “Emmett asked me to slow down on the 5th loop in case he needed me to help bring in a team member and I had to slow a little on the last loop in slippery places, but otherwise I pretty much did what I had planned as far as pace.”
With a time of 21:22:37, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) claimed Team Gold as well as sweeping all of the Individual medals. France won Team Silver with a time of 23:24:47 and Oman won Team Bronze with a time of 23:55:46. HH Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum (UAE) rode Madji du Pont to Individual Gold with a time of 7:00:45 and an average speed of 22.82 kph, followed closely behind by UAE teammates HE Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum on Yamamah (07:01:04) and Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri on Vendaval (07:01:04). The 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Gold medalist Maria Alvarez Ponton of Spain finished fourth with her WEG partner Nobby. The Best Conditioned Horse was Ikland ridden by Alex Luque Moral of Spain. The pair finished fifth individually.
August 24, Friday morning – two down
On Friday morning Chef d’Equipe Emmett Ross decided to make a change to the squad of six U.S. horses and riders. Based on veterinary input, Ross replaced Becky Hart and her horse No Repeat with alternate Meg Sleeper and Syrocco Reveille. Hart said, “Of course I am disappointed to not ride. But that’s endurance. Now I will be actively crewing and cheering the riders throughout the race on Saturday.”
Ross said, “We are lucky to have three-time world champion Becky Hart’s continued support and wealth of experience as part of the U.S. Endurance effort. We thank her for her dedication. Spirits remain high. We are ready to go. We are ready to race.”
Hart went on to say, “I am thrilled we are fielding such a strong team of horses and riders. Thanks go to Emmett and the US Endurance Athletes Association recent fundraising that allowed us to bring Meg and her horse as an alternate.”
The United States’ second individual entry, Nicki Meuten (Zebulon, NC) and her own Not Tonight, were not accepted by the Ground Jury at the first horse inspection.
“As chef I am so pleased to have such a strong group of committed team players,” said Ross. “This team includes a great amount of experience with two past World Champions and multiple Tevis Cup winning horses and riders. We have a great combination of experience and youth. All of us are very enthusiastic and eager for the challenge.”