Endurance riders from Uruguay claimed Team and Individual gold in the Senior division, while the host nation of Chile dominated the Young Riders classes at the 2011 Pan-American Endurance Championships staged in Santo Domingo (CHI) last weekend. Bernardo Algorta registered an impressive average speed of 20 kilometres an hour with his horse, Cacique, to take the Senior title for Uruguay, while Chile's Sebastian Taverne and Eclipse covered the challenging course at an average of 19.73 kmh to secure the Young Rider honours.
Attention to detail in the preparation of the venue and facilities in Santo Domingo drew high praise for the Organising Committee from competitors, officials, supporters and spectators alike. But the highest accolade of all was heaped on by Chile's President, Sebastian Pinera, who attended the event and said that it provided "a great boost to Chile and to South America in general".
The history of Endurance in Chile dates back to a visit by a group of enthusiasts to the FEI World Championships at Fort Riley in Kansas, USA back in 1996. On returning home they introduced the discipline to their native country, and began to organise races over distances of between 40 and 80 kilometres. Chilean competitors who rose to prominence during the early years included Marcial Taverne, Antonio Llompart, Alejandro Donoso, Marcelo Cortes and Ignacio Urenda.
With its wide variety of weather and topography stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the imposing Andes mountains which is home to the Condor - the massive and majestic bird that is the national symbol of Chile - this country provides an extraordinary environment for this ever-expanding sport. Every month, over 200 riders assemble at a new venue not only to compete, but also to appreciate the beauty of the natural world that surrounds them, and to share that experience with their horses.
The 2011 Pan-American Endurance Championships, organised by the Chilean Association of Equestrian Endurance, took place at the 9,000 hectare resort of Brisas de Santo Domingo, located in the centre of the country and on the shores of the Pacific. The circuit crossed both flat terrain and some mountainous areas, beginning by the sea and then climbing to a plateau filled with lakes and a great variety of flora and fauna including black-necked swans, foxes and hares and exotic trees like the Quillay and Peumo. The course, covering a distance of 120kms, was divided into five loops - the first 30kms long, the second 25km, the third 30km, the fourth 20km and then a fifth and final loop of 15km, and it demanded great skill on the part of the riders in their efforts to ensure their horses finished in good shape.
They showed exactly that when there was a 63% completion rate in the Senior competition and 58% in the Young Rider section in which, however, the team from Chile were the only finishers when taking gold. Sebastian Taverne (Eclipse), Benjamin Boetsch (Khadijah) and Pablo Llompart (Ankar Samuray) recorded a combined riding time of 7:09:38, and Taverne's average speed of 19.73 khm confirmed him as Individual Young Rider Champion ahead of Colombia's Cristina Mutis (Tiawa) whose average speed was 19.41 kmh. Boetsch (Khadijah) took Individual bronze with an average speed of 18.87 khm, and a total of 14 horse-and-rider partnerships from five nations - Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay - competed.
Uruguay's Bernardo Algorta enjoyed an even bigger celebration when his horse, Cacique, was presented with the Best Condition Award - no mean feat having completed his race with a sensational riding time of just 5 hours, 59 minutes and 27 seconds and that 20 kmh average speed for the Senior Individual title. But Senior silver medallist, John Cradwell (Heraldic) from the USA was close behind when clocking 6:03:38 with an average speed of 19.8 kmh, and his team-mate, the veteran Valerie Kanavy (Spectacular Gold) took the bronze when only fractionally further behind with an average speed of 19.7 kmh.
It was a close-fought battle for the Senior Team title, with the American side of Cradwell, Kanavy and Debora Reich (Pandor) having to settle for silver when Uruguay's Sofia Castells (Canuto Molles), Paula Fort (Campanina) and Jorge Martinez (Nagfour) finished almost two minutes faster. Chile's Lukas Buckel (Konsterrus), Alejandro Kil (Al Hatal El Shammaat) and Ana Maria Novoa (Pistrat) took bronze.
Senior Teams: GOLD - Uruguay 7:03:32: Canuto Molles (Sofia Castells), Campanina (Paula Fort), Nagfour (Jorge Martinez); SILVER - USA 7:05:19 - Heraldic (John Cradwell), Spectacular Gold (Valerie Kanavy), Pandor (Debora Reich) ; BRONZE - Chile 9:42:49 - Konsterrus (Lukas Buckel), Al Hatal El Shamaat (Alejandro Kiss), Pistrat (Ana Maria Novoa) .
Senior Individuals: GOLD - Cacique (Bernardo Algorta) Uruguay 20 kmh; SILVER - Heraldic (John Cradwell) USA 19.8 kmh; BRONZE - Spectacular Road (Valerie Kanavy) 19.7 kmh.
Young Rider Teams: GOLD - Chile 7:09:38 - Eclipse (Sebastian Taverne), Khadijah (Benjamin Boetsch), Ankar Samuray (Pablo Llompart).
Young Rider Individuals: GOLD - Eclipse (Sebastian Taverne) CHI 19.73 kmh; SILVER - Tiawa (Cristina Mutis) COL 19.41; BRONZE - Khadijah (Benjamin Boetsch) 18.87.
For further information on the 2011 Pan-American Endurance Championships in Santo Domingo, Chile visit website www.panamendurance2011.cl
Photo Caption: Uruguay’s Bernardo Algorta and Cacique claimed the Senior Individual title at the Pan-American Endurance Championships 2011 in Santo Domingo, Chile at the weekend. Photo: FEI/Chilean NF.