Sunday, 26 September 2010

WEG 2010: A Right Royal 100 Mile Slog Round The Park

Sheikh Mohammed | Entered for WEG Endurance
Photo courtesy of 2010 Radio Show
I'm still waiting for the Eventing to start! But endurance is about to begin, something I know nix about, apart from:

  • They ride in fluffy saddles
  • The horses all have dish faces
  • The best riders all have dark hair, beards or mustaches

 It's one of those equestrian sports you have to admire though, because a bit like watching the London Marathon, you think "yeah, I could do that" right up until the moment you start training, then it's "I really admire those guys".

With Zara Phillips out of the running, and her Grandfather (Prince Phillip) no longer driving competitively, at this year's World Equestrian Games, the Endurance is the only chance you'll get to see Royalty competing in the shape of Sheikh Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai. Unless the American's class Lyle Lovett's horse as royalty!

Dubai | My Red Carpet Tour 
The closest I've ever come to understanding Endurance is actually via Sheikh Mohammed. A few years ago I supplied software to a number of his operations out in Dubai, and my on first visit there I was given the red carpet tour of the equestrian infrastructure, including a tour of the equine hospital (that I thought was where the rich and famous lived as we approached!), and one of his own personal stable blocks, which was pretty awesome too.

Dubai | Impressive Equine Facilities
If you've never been to Dubai I thoroughly recommend going, probably for the Dubai World Cup in March. The horseboxes get priority on the roads and have flashing blue lights, how cool is that? The whole place is very ostentatious, like a conservative Las Vegas, but worthy of a visit. I last went out about 8 years ago for the World Cup in a whistle stop 48 hr turnaround courtesy of Emirates Airlines.

Anyway I digress. I did see Sheikh Mohammed compete at Punchestown 2003 Eventing Europeans, when they also ran the Endurance Open European Championships that the Sheikh & his family won, crossing the line together, holding hands to take the first 3 places (I think he waited for them to catch up!). The UAE has an undeniable love affair with the horse, especially the Arabian, and who could blame them. We've a lot to thank Sheikh Mohammed for in the horse world, and I admire the endurance riders, but I've no intention of joining them.

I'd be very surprised if the UAE don't get a medal or two in this event, and happy riding to all competing, especially the oldest competitor, Jan Worthington, aged 70!

could you imagine if they had to do sitting trot for 100 miles.....

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