Normandy, France: Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, scaled the summit of his sport to win the individual gold medal in the endurance event at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France, on Thursday.
Riding 2013 European Open Champion Yamamah, Shaikh Hamdan secured his place among endurance riding’s elite with a domineering performance over a challenging 160-kilometre course to win in eight hours, eight minutes and 28 seconds.
Dutch rider Marike Visser finished a competitive second in a time of 08:19.17s.
Shaikh Hamdan’s success was the UAE’s second gold in the event after his brother Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the UAE National Olympic Committee, became the youngest champion and first Arab to win a gold medal at the World Equestrian Games when successful at Jerez, Spain, in 2002.
A strong field of 170 riders from 48 countries contested the showpiece event, which started just after sunrise. The gruelling marathon course featured five looped circuits stretching from the Lucerne Forest to the majestic bay of Mont-Saint-Michel.
At the end of each of the five loops, horses underwent the compulsory veterinary checks and rested in a holding before heading off on the following loop after passing the vet check.
In endurance, the rider must know how to control their horse so that the distance is completed in as fast a time as possible while keeping the horse in perfect physical condition.
Thursday’s ride also featured a team competition. One country can enter up to five rider/horse pairings, with the best three riders from each nation selected for the team ranking. If a nation doesn’t enter at least three riders, it doesn’t participate in the team ranking.
The endurance venue spanned 12 hectares with 80 temporary accommodation cabins for 320 grooms, 240 boxes, 1,800 sq. metre of temporary structures for the horses to rest, a 1,000 sq. metre exhibitors’ village and a hospitality village spanning 6,000 sq. metre.
The awarding of the medals will take place at the d’Ornano Stadium in Caen on Friday afternoon.