Bahrain claimed gold in both the seven and eight year old categories at the FEI World Championships for Young Endurance Horses 2012 at Babolna in Hungary at the weekend. HH Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa topped the seven year old section with Dhab, while Jaffer Mirza brought Uszko D’Hotelhoge home to claim the eight year old title. And French riders scooped all the remaining medals, with Vincent Dupont (Khandjar du Boulve) and Laurent Mosti (Assiha de Fignols) taking silver and bronze in the younger horse division while Arthur Desprez (Glycin de Suleiman) and Melissa Bisoffi (Nadia El Fee de Boz) did likewise with their older horses.
This year's FEI World Championships for Young Endurance Horses attracted competitors from 15 countries - Bahrain, France, Poland, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Norway, Estonia, Austria, Argentina, Spain and Belgium.
State Stud Farm
The event was staged at the famous Babolna State Stud Farm which, lying halfway between Vienna (AUT) and Budapest (HUN), is one of the oldest breeding stations in Europe.
Established in 1789 as a Royal Imperial Stud of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with the mission of supplying horses to the army and the Royal Guard, it was originally a branch of the largest military breeding operation in Europe at Meszohegyes, near the Romanian border. However Babolna quickly became the source of the Empire's elite horses, specialising in the production of top-quality Arabian pure-breds and larger part-breds, the latter developing into the Shagya Arabians that are so popular and successful today.
Despite suffering severe losses, the Stud survived both World Wars and eventually came under the control of the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture. In 2001 the State-owned company, Babolna Memzeti Menesbirtok Kft, was established to preserve the historic complex, and the Stud continues to promote breeding, training, exhibitions and competition organisation in the region.
At the heart of it all are its precious Shagya Arabs whose beauty, toughness and loyalty have provided them with a massive following, and whose competitiveness has acquitted them admirably for the challenging sport of Endurance.
Eight Year Olds
There were 30 starters in the Eight Year Old Championship, three more than took part at the 2011 event in Compiegne, France. And Bahrain’s Jaffer cleared the finish line in 5 hours 44 minutes and 15 seconds with an average speed of 20.918 km/h to top the podium here. Silver medallist Desprez broke the beam for France in 5.50.34, clocking an average speed of 20.538 km/h while Bisoffi’s time was 5.52.27 with an average speed of 20.428 km/h for the bronze. So there was just over six minutes separating the gold and silver medallists and a further two minutes separating silver from bronze.
However, for Hungary’s Bianka Matyi it was an agonisingly close call as she missed the medal podium by a single second, and had to settle for fourth place when the clock showed 5.52.28 as she crossed the line with Dariusz. Jaffer's gelding, Uszko S’Hotelhoge, claimed the coveted Best Condition Award in his age category.
Seven Year Olds
In the larger field of 36 contesting the Seven Year Old medals there were 11 representing France, but it was one of the three competitors from Bahrain who clinched the gold. HH Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa brought Dhab through the finish in 5 hours 31 minutes and 10 seconds, having averaged 21.741 km/h. This gave them a four-second advantage over the silver medal winning partnership of Dupont and Khandjar du Boulve whose average speed was 21.479 while French compatriot, Mosti, finished in 5.44.23 registering an average speed of 20.907. And Mosti's grey mare, Assiha de Fignols, took the Best Condition Award here.
The officials at the FEI World Championships for Young Endurance Horses 2012 included President of the Ground Jury, Ireland’s Brian Dunn, FEI Technical Delegate Ing.Harald Grinschgl from Austria, Chef Steward Zsuzsanna Banyai from Hungary, President of the Veterinary Commission Dr Yassine Motemri from Tunisia and FEI Veterinary Delegate Dr Mohammed Al Hammad from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Ian Williams, the FEI'S Director of Non-Olympic Sports, attended the event and said, "the track was very good and was located entirely within the stud lands and surrounding farms. The course was challenging, with lots of changes of direction that proved testing. The facilities at Babolna are outstanding, and from a sporting perspective the Championships were a great success.”
Seven Year Old Championship: GOLD - Dhab (HH Sh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa) BRN; SILVER - Khandjar du Boulve (Vincent Dupont) FRA; BRONZE - Asshia de Fignols (Laurent Mosti) FRA.
Eight Year Old Championship: GOLD - Uszko S’Hotelhoge (Jaffer Mirza) BRN; SILVER - Glycine de Suleiman (Arthur Desprez) FRA; BRONZE - Nadia El Fee de Box (Melissa Bisoffi) FRA.
Photo Caption: Competitors from Bahrain won both the Seven and Eight Year Old divisions at the FEI World Endurance Championships for Young Horses 2012 held in Babolna, Hungary last weekend (10/11 August). Pictured is the winner of the Eight Year Old title, Jaffer Mirza riding Uszko D’Hotelhoge which also took the Best Condition Award in his category. Photo: Antal Baranyai.