The Endurance competition has had the worst possible start at the 2018 World Equestrian Games when there was so much confusion at the start and during the first leg of the competition, that the race will be restarted later today (estimated to be between 11 and 11.15am here).
The official release states:
“As some teams were unfortunately misdirected at the start of today’s Endurance ride, the competition will be stopped at the first vet gate and re-started as a 120-kilometre championship. In order to ensure that all horses are fit to compete, they will all go through the vet check. Only horses who have passed the vet check will be allowed to compete. No substitution of horses will be allowed.
The restart of the ride will take place 45 minutes after the last horse has been inspected at the vet gate.
As there is no possibility to reschedule the ride tomorrow, the President of the Ground Jury, President of the Veterinary Commission, Foreign Veterinary Delegate and the Organising Committee agreed that this was the only pragmatic solution.
This is in line with the preamble to the FEI Endurance Rules which state: “In any unforeseen or exceptional circumstances, it is the duty of the Ground Jury and Veterinarians to make a decision in a sporting spirit and approaching, as nearly as possibly, to the intention of those rules and of the General Rules of the FEI.”
This statement was met with disbelief by some riders when it was announced in the chaotic area by the vet check base. There was one rider who was very vocal about this as he trotted into the finish of the first section, saying it wasn’t fair and that it shouldn’t happen.
New Zealand’s Jenny Champion trotted safely with her 20-year-old Barack Obama. The pair looked fit and well going into the vet area, and only spent a few minutes cooling the horse before presenting to the vet inspection, which they passed with no problems.
Jenny was he went really well. “At the start he was a bit worked up but he came right,” she said. As to the speedy transition through the vet, Jenny wasn’t surprised. “He has pretty good heart rates, this horse.” Other members of the New Zealand team described him as a bit of a freak with how fast he recovers, saying it was like as soon as he gets into the area, he just relaxes and his heart rate goes down really quickly.
Jenny confirmed she was one of the riders who did stick to the official track. As to the race now being restarted as a 1.20, Jenny wasn’t happy. “It is friggin stupid,” she said. “I would like to know what happened and why if someone has gone the wrong way, what is the story? It is not fair, we have all done it.”
However she confirmed that she would recover and get prepared as best she could.
Philip Graham took longer to come in to the finish. He heard on the course what the situation was so pulled up and walked slowly home to conserve his horse. He had enough time in hand to be able to do this as there is a maximum time that the leg had to be finished in.
This is the worst possible start for the world championships but the Kiwis are still in it.