UAE Grabs Gold Medal At Endurance World Championships, presented by Meydan

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Endurance, Results, World Equestrian Games at 7:57 am by Press Release

Lexington, Ky., Sept. 27 — After their riders finished third, sixth and seventh individually in the Endurance World Championships, presented by Meydan, the United Arab Emirates today accepted their team gold medals in the Main Stadium at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

The UAE team’s total time (23:53:36) was nearly 55 minutes faster than silver medalist France (24:49:46), while Germany surprised the world by claiming the bronze medal (25:34:16). It was Germany’s first medal in endurance at a World Equestrian Games.

The UAE team members were HE Sheikh Hamdan Mohammed Al Maktoum, HE Sheikh Majid Mohammed Al Maktoum, and Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum. They had trained in Newmarket, England, to prepare for the World Games, because the grass training gallops and the climate there are far more similar to Lexington than Dubai, said Jaume Punti-Dachs, one of the team’s trainers.

The French team members were Sarah Chakil, Virgnie Atger and Cecile Miletto Mosti.

The German team members were Gabriela Foster, Sabrina Arnold and Belinda Hitzler.

HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the individual silver medalist, elected not to be a member of his country’s team for these World Games. He said before the ride began that he’d made this decision because it was “in the best interest of the team.”

Maria Mercedes Alvarez Ponton, the individual gold medalist, also trained her mount, Nobby, in Newmarket since Punti-Dachs is her husband. She gave birth to their daughter, Maria Punti-Alvarez, just seven weeks ago. “I feel no different today than after any other ride,” she said. “The only difference was that I could not sleep all night because I had to feed the baby.”

With a 55-percent completion rate (55 finishers of 100 starters)—the highest completion rate ever for an endurance championship at the World Games— riders and team officials hailed the 100-mile course around the Kentucky Horse Park as a great success. The course crossed land owned by 26 different owners and passed through 256 gates, all of which had to be manned by officials or volunteers to control equine, pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Riders wore global-positioning-system tracking devices throughout the race, allowing spectators to follow them on television screens throughout the Kentucky Horse Park. “It was not part of the official timing or scoring system, but I think it worked well to keep the spectators interested in following the race as it progressed,” said endurance discipline manager Emmett Ross.

Hanaba du Bois, the horse ridden by Jean-Philippe Frances of France to fourth place, earned the best-condition award, determined this morning by the ride’s veterinarians.

About Meydan – One dynamic location, many possibilities

Meydan City is the brainchild of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. It is the culmination of his vision to create not just the ultimate venue for horseracing, but also an integrated city that is sustainable, environmentally responsible and also one that positions Dubai at the centre of the competitive global business stage.

Meydan City will feature four distinct sub-districts – Meydan Racecourse; where the Meydan Grandstand takes centre stage and is home to the Dubai World Cup, Meydan Metropolis; a series of state-of-the-art business parks, Meydan Horizons; where business towers intermingle with luxury waterfront developments, and Meydan Godolphin Parks; with its distinctive Godolphin Tower created in the image of a thoroughbred and also where the shopping destination Signature Mall is located.

Meydan Grandstand and Racecourse can accommodate a capacity of over 60,000, and features fine-dining restaurants, covered car parking for 8,600, the Meydan Museum and Gallery, an IMAX Theatre, the Meydan Boathouse, and the world’s largest and longest trackside LED panel. The Dubai Racing Club, Emirates Racing Authority and Meydan Freezone Falcon Commercial Park Freezone offices are located here. Meydan Racecourse district will also feature a 9-hole golf course, showroom district and luxury residential villas to rival those in any cosmopolitan city.

Meydan Grandstand also houses the world’s first five-star trackside hotel, Jumeirah The Meydan. With 285 luxuriously appointed rooms and suites, a Rooftop Infinity pool, a variety of F&B establishments, business, conference, banqueting facilities and a spa and fitness centre, most of these facilities offering stunning views of the racecourse.

The seamlessly interconnected indoor and outdoor spaces at Meydan Grandstand and Racecourse provide excellent venues for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions. These include unique facilities such as the Sky Bubble, which accommodates up to 4,500 guests, 72 Grandstand Corporate Suites with full track views, the Parade Ring, Receiving Barns, an indoor food court, extensive infield space, and the Apron Views.

With its Free zone status geared to businesses who are looking to be at the gateway to Europe and Asia, Meydan City is one location that offers a myriad of investment opportunities and experiences, delivering a perfect platform for business, entertainment and lifestyle.


Spain’s Ponton Flies To Endurance World Championship, Presented by Meydan

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Endurance, World Equestrian Games at 10:11 am by Press Release

Maria Mercedes Alvarez Ponton of Spain, riding Nobby

Lexington, Ky., Sept. 27, 2010 — Maria Mercedes Alvarez Ponton of Spain, riding Nobby, literally out-galloped her rivals to win the individual gold medal at the Endurance World Championships, presented by Meydan, at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

But HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on Ciel Oriental, and his son, HE Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, on SAS Alexis, sprinted through the finish line only 1:55 later to claim the silver and bronze individual medals and lead the United Arab Emirates to their first team gold medal at a World Equestrian Games.

Ponton completed the last loop at an average speed of 29.44 kilometers per hour, while her UAE competitors chased her at an average speed of 31.66 kph. Ponton’s average time throughout the 100-mile race was a speedy 21.07 kph.

Heather Reynolds of the United States started the race’s climactic loop 6 in second place, but her mount Ssamiam, could not hold off the UAE charge and finished fourth. However, officials determined that Ssamiam was not fit to continue and eliminated him at the post-finish veterinary examination. Consequently, Jean-Philippe Frances of France claimed fourth on Hanaba du Bois.

With three riders unable to complete the course because of lameness or metabolic conditions, the U.S. team did not complete the competition.

“It’s really a strange feeling, because I really wanted Sheikh Mohammed to be the World Champion,” said Ponton immediately after the race. “I think he deserves it. He’s the person doing more for this sport in the world. This sport is what it is now because of him. But I didn’t know he was behind. I thought it was the American and the French guy.”

Still, Ponton added, “I’m not going to change” medals.

Ponton, 34, and Nobby have now won three championships in the last three years—the 2008 Endurance World Championships, the 2009 European Championships, and now the World Games.

But in between her European Championship and her victory at these 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, she gave birth to a daughter, Maria Punti-Alvarez, just seven weeks ago.

“It’s been really difficult to train and feed the baby and everything,” Ponton admitted.  “Last year when I got pregnant, I thought I could do [the 2010 World Games]. But everybody kept telling me it was impossible. I feel well. It’s like it never happened, having a baby.”

Ponton’s gold medal was even sweeter because her husband, Jaume Punti-Dachs, trains Sheikh Mohammed, 60, and his sons.

Sheikh Mohammed, the prime minister of the UAE, hosted the 1998 World Championships in Dubai and regularly hosts other important endurance races. He had high praise for the course that crisscrossed the Kentucky Horse Park and crossed over numerous neighboring farms.

“I just took care of my horse. I enjoyed myself very much on this course today,” he said.

Ponton was pleased with how well Nobby, 15, handled 100 miles of the Kentucky bluegrass countryside.

“‘[The course] was really, really difficult. Really fast for me and really difficult. People say it is flat. It’s not flat at all. It was the most difficult race I’ve won with Nobby,” she said.



Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Endurance, Test Event, World Equestrian Games at 9:09 pm by Thomas

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY-October 15, 2009- The United States dominated the Kentucky Cup Endurance FEI CEI***, sponsored by Emirates Equestrian Federation, and the official endurance test event for the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games, garnering all three team and individual medals on Wednesday. The winners were officially declared at an awards ceremony held at the Kentucky Horse Park on Thursday morning.   

Danielle McGunigal of Ft. Valley, Virginia, was the individual gold medal winner of the modified CEI*** in a ride time of 6:30:41 with an average speed of 18.43 kph. The race was originally an FEI qualifying event at a distance of 100 miles (160 km), but was shortened to 75-miles (120 km) after the footing became questionable due to the inclement weather that began shortly before the race began and continued throughout the day making the trail slippery and muddy.  

“I was disappointed by the race being shortened but happy to be finished,” lamented the 1996 Endurance World Champion. “This was the toughest ride I have ever done. It was like swimming up hill with a hole in your paddle.” 

The race was shortened—from six loops down to four—and McGunigal led almost the whole way riding Gold Raven, her 8-year-old Arabian mare. McGunigal’s mother, two-time Endurance World Champion, Valerie Kanavy, came to the mandatory vet check ahead of her daughter, but was later eliminated after her mare slipped on the second loop.  

Ellyn Rapp of Dubuque, Iowa, won the silver medal in a ride time of 6:52:16 (17.46 kph) on her 14-year-old Arabian gelding, Berjo Smokey. “Smokey is amazing, said Rapp. He never quits.  I have had all my best rides on him.”  

Jan Worthington, of Scales Mound, Illinois, won the bronze medal in a ride time of 7:01:33 (17.08 kph) riding Golden Lightning. The 9-year-old Arabian gelding was awarded the prestigious Best Condition award, given to the horse that is judged to be the most fit to continue. Worthington was thrilled with his accomplishment. 

“It really took me by surprise,” said the 69-year-old rider of winning Best Condition. “I am blessed with a great horse. I think he did so well in the mud because he has small feet like a mule.”    

The individual medals were awarded first and the ceremony turned out to be very moving, thanks to a technical difficulty. The music for the U.S. National Anthem could not be played, so the audience volunteered to sing it instead. 

Despite the weather, the event was considered a success and a good test for next year.  Competition Manager Emmett Ross said Wednesday provided some excellent learning opportunities, and was pleased with his feedback about the trail.  

“We were committed to make the trail wonderful.  You never got to see the trail in its full glory because of the weather,” said Ross. “I’m saving some surprises for next year. We are looking forward to making this a very enjoyable trail next year – and it’s not going to rain!”

Team USA East – Gold Medal
Danielle McGunigal
Dr. Margaret Mary (Meg) Sleeper
Stephen Rojek
Farzad Faryadi

Team Central USA – Silver Medal
Ellyn Rapp
Janice Ann Worthington
Darolyn Butler
Julie Jackson – Biegert 

Team Mountain USA – Bronze Medal 
Christoph Josef Schork
Suzanne Hayes
Douglas Swingley
Tennessee Mahoney


UAE, USA Riders Dominate Kentucky Cup Endurance

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Endurance, Pre-Events, World Equestrian Games at 10:10 pm by Thomas

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY-October 14, 2009- HE Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum  of the United Arab Emirates and 1996 Endurance World Champion Danielle Mc Gunigal of the United States won the Kentucky Cup Endurance events, sponsored by Emirates Equestrian Federation, and the official endurance test event for the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games.     

HE Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum son of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, crossed the wire first in the CEI** 75 mile event in a ride time of 6:05:30. Danielle Mc Gunigal finished the CEI*** in a ride time in 6:30:41.  The CEI*** was originally an FEI qualifying event at a distance of 100 miles (160 km), but lost its status when it was shortened to 120 km after the footing became questionable in the inclement weather. 

“I have mixed feelings about shortening the race,” said Mc Gunigal. “The footing was only getting worse. Some of the parts of the trail that we have to go over were already slippery and deep and if the race was kept at the original distance, we would have had to go over it again, so in that sense, I am glad they shortened it. But I was hoping to use this race to qualify my horse (Gold Raven) for next year, and now we have to do it at another event, so that is very disappointing.” 

HE Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum was thrilled with his win despite the conditions. 

“It was amazing. This is the sport that we most love. It’s our history,” said Sheikh Majid.  “Given the weather today, the course was amazing. But the weather made it very difficult. There wasn’t any hard part, other than the ground being a bit slippery. Other than that, it was excellent. There wasn’t anything wrong or bad.” 

The rain was a recurring focus of the day, with a downpour shortly before the start of the rides. It continued throughout the day for all mandatory veterinary exams, creating a messy vet gate and slippery footing. 

Two-time Endurance World Champion Valerie Kanavy and mother of Danielle McGunigal, was affected by the weather and footing. Kanavy was eliminated after her horse LM Parys fell on the second loop. 

“We were crossing the road on the blacktop and she just slipped,” said Kanavy.  “She went down and I went right after. She has recovered and is doing fine now.” 

The event was aptly named as an endurance test. The endurance levels of the athletes from the 23 countries participating were truly tested.  However, according to Mubarak Khalifa of the UAE the weather was no big deal. “Endurance riders are used to riding in all kinds of weather, so this is normal.”  

One noticeable absentee was HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was expected to compete but never made the trip to Kentucky due to commitments in Dubai.


The World Games 2010 Foundation Announces Competitors for Kentucky Cup Endurance. Official Test Event for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Endurance, Test Event, World Equestrian Games at 10:16 pm by Thomas

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY—October 7, 2009— On October 14, riders from more than 20 countries will compete in the Kentucky Cup Endurance race, sponsored by Emirates Equestrian Federation and the official endurance test event for the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games.  

Athletes from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Romania, Spain and many other countries are expected to compete in or observe Kentucky Cup Endurance in preparation for next year’s Endurance World Championship at the 2010 Games.  The team from the United Arab Emirates will be led by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.  His son, HE Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, will also ride for the UAE.

Current World Champion Maria Alvarez Ponton of Spain, and the mother-daughter team of Valerie Kanavy and Danielle Mc Gunigal of the United States will also compete. Kanavy is a two-time world champion (1994 and 1998) and also placed second to her daughter in the 1996 World Championships.

Kentucky Cup Endurance will feature both a 75-mile (120 km) race and a 100-mile (160 km) race. Both races comprise a series of loops through the Kentucky Horse Park and surrounding properties, frequently returning to the Kentucky Horse Park for required veterinary inspections.

The 75-mile race will begin at 7:30 a.m. on October 14 and the 100-mile race will follow with a 7:45 a.m. start.  Awards for the 100-mile race will be held at 10:00 a.m. on October 15 in the new outdoor stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park. In addition to honoring the top riders, there will also be an award for the best conditioned horse.

Admission to Kentucky Cup Endurance is free to the public. Parking will be $3 per day at the entrance of the Kentucky Horse Park. Kentucky Cup Endurance spectators can also enjoy the other Kentucky Horse Park attractions. Admission to Kentucky Horse Park attractions is available at the Visitor’s Center.

A complete list of competitors and countries is available on the Kentucky Cup Endurance test event page of our Web site.

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