mercredi 12 septembre 2007

UK News: France takes dual European endurance gold

Carol Phillips, H&H website producer

12 September, 2007
France took both the European team and individual championship over the coastal plains of Portugal, while United Arab Emirates (UAE) rider Mubarak Khalifa Al Shafya became the new Open European Champion.

Mubarak Khalifa Al Shafya crossed the line with the 11-year-old gelding Zakah Zahara one minute ahead of Jean Phillipe Frances, who won the European title with Hanaba Du Bois.

Spain's Jaume Punti Dachs and Maria Alverez Ponton set a new record by becoming the first husband and wife team to stand on the medal podium in second and third place respectively.

The French team of Sophie Arnaud, Virginie Atger, Phillippe Benoit and Pascale Dietsch regained the European title they last held in 2003. Together with the World Championship, the title gives France a stranglehold over the sport's international silverware.

France's chef d'equipe Jean-Louis Leclerc, paid tribute to the achievement of the squad saying they had achieved "great things" at what he described as a difficult championship.

"Throughout the day it was very hot. The track itself was difficult. The temperature rose to over 30 degrees during the day and it was very humid. The terrain changed throughout and was not to be underestimated. The riders had to adapt their tactics to the changing circumstances throughout the competition."

The increasing success of the Middle Eastern countries was signalled with a silver medal in the open team competition for Bahrain. Spain took bronze in the open team event and silver in the European contest, where Switzerland joined them in third place on podium.

The British team finished in fifth place in the European Championship and sixth overall with three team riders completing the course. The highest-placed Briton was individual competitor Susan Hawes with Jade Rani in 18th. Team rider Fiona Hamilton (Sharifah) finished 20th, Chris Yeoman (Farouk De Lozelle) was 23rd, and Nicky Sherry (Shimmering Blue Jasmine) finished in 34th place. Jayme Bone fell by the wayside at vet gate three, while Sally Hall's ride ended at vet gate four.

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