Two U.S. Riders Finish World Endurance Championship

Two of six riders completed the 100-mile 2005 FEI World Endurance Championship on Jan. 27. The individual and team gold medals went to HE Sheikh Hazza bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Italy, respectively.

United Arab Emirates, Feb. 3, 2005 — Two of the six riders representing the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) completed the 100-mile 2005 FEI World Endurance Championship on Jan. 27 at Dubai International City in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The highest place finisher was Becky Harris of Medina, Ohio, who came in 20th place with a ride time of 8:47:03 on GA Tyfa Mynte. Carolyn Hock of Riverside, Calif., and GT Sando were 56th with a ride time of 11:10:13.

“We had some bad luck,” said Chef d’Equipe Art Priesz, Jr. “The reason we did not finish a team was not because of bad conditioning or the fault of the rider, we just had a couple of problems that could not be helped.”

One factor was the incredibly fast pace set by the team from the UAE. With an average ride speed of 22 km. per hour, few of the 175 riders were able to keep pace. The exception was Barbara Lissarague of France who rode the final 19 km. in a blistering speed of 31 km. per hour. That final loop pace was not good enough for the gold, but it did come down to the final loop. Looking more like a sprint than an endurance event, Lissarague battled it out with HE Sheikh Hazza bin Sultan Al Nahyan of the UAE, and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who were not more than seconds apart for the final 35 minutes of the event.

In the end, the individual gold medal went to HE Sheikh Hazza bin Sultan Al Nahyan riding Hachim in a record breaking ride time of 7:03:22. Lissarague and Georgat took the silver in a ride time of 7:04:14, and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Nashmi received the bronze in a ride time.

Medals were not critical to Harris who was thrilled with the performance of her 18-year-old mare affectionately known as “Honey.”

“It was one of our best rides,” said Harris. “It’s a miracle [that we competed], I can’t believe it.” In the six weeks leading up to the ride, Honey colicked and Harris had an accident with her truck.

“It has been a real rollercoaster,” she said. “It was a big sacrifice for my family, but my husband and my three boys were so supportive. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.”

Neither would Hock, who is looking forward to spending more time in Dubai.

“I am so delighted to be here,” said Hock. “I was not able to experience all of the hospitality because I was so focused on [the competition], but I am going to enjoy myself for the next couple of days. The ride was everything I expected it to be, except for the terrain. I thought that sand was just sand, but I learned that it was not the case here. The terrain had a lot of variation to it so that you had to ride every inch. That was a surprise.”

Only four countries finished with the necessary three riders to be in contention for a medal. Italy won the gold with a combined ride time of 24:60:39. The silver went to Australia, whose riders have been on the podium for three consecutive Endurance World Championships. This year they finished with a score of 26:59:46. The bronze went to Belgium with a ride time of 28:31:04. Canada came in fourth with a score of 35:17:33.

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