January 27, 2005- United Arab Emirates -

Two U.S. Riders Cross the Finish after a Day’s Work in the Desert;
Results of the 2005 FEI World Endurance Championship

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

Although the United States did not finish a team, Chef d’ Equipe Art Priesz, Jr. felt that it was due more to unavoidable problems, rather than rider error.

“We had some bad luck,” said Priesz. “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 United Arab Emirates. 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. Surprisingly, 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 was battling 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. Barbara Lissarague and Georgat took the Silver in a ride time of 7:04:14 and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum received the Bronze in a ride time of 7:08:45 riding Nashmi.

Medals were not critical to Becky 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, I can’t believe it.” The miracle is that they even took part in the Championship. In the six weeks leading up to the ride, Honey colicked and Harris had an accident with her truck.  “It has been a real roller coaster,” said Harris. “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 Carolyn Hock, who is looking forward to some down 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 today, 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.” 

Another surprise was the number of teams that were able to receive a score. 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 21:47:13. 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 22:15:18. 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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