World Endurance Championships Underway

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Malaysian FlagOne-hundred and sixty kilometers on horseback is no easy feat. But 142 riders from 34 nations will undertake the task when the FEI World Endurance Championships get underway in Terengganu, Malaysia November 6-9, 2008.

The United States has six horse/rider combinations in Malaysia under the guidance of three-time World Champion Becky Hart, who is serving as Chef d’Equipe. The team includes another multiple world champion: Valarie Kanavy. She is hot off of a win at the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) National Championships in the 100-mile Championship. In that victory she rode King Ali Gold 45 minutes clear of the runner-up, but the Fort Valley, Virginia, rider will contest the World Championships on Flash Flame, a 10-year-old Arabian mare.

Katharine Brunjes left the Maine winter behind headed to the desert for her second World Championships. She is diligently preparing for the night ride in Malaysia aboard Theatric, a 10-year-old Arabian gelding she has had since he was an unbroken 4-year-old.

Brunjes and Theatric were invited to compete in the Sultan’s Cup in 2007, which served as the test event for these World Championships; they finished fifth back then. Improvements have been made all over the venue based on the experiences of the previous year’s event. The team has settled in well and Brunjes looks forward to the competition getting underway.

“The team is in good spirits and we are exercising and training daily,” Brunjes says. “On Monday we had our long ride leading up to the event. We rode our training loop front-wards and backwards several times to accumulate 20 miles. Our training track–each country has an individual training track to maintain our quarantine status until race day–is just 10.4 km, so we had to do some creative riding to get the mileage we need. The horses look great, are acclimating nicely and we are pleased with how each horse has settled in.”

John Crandell III and Saba Shams made the trek to Malaysia from Star Tannery, Virginia. The 9-year-old Arabian gelding is owned by Ann Crandell–the pair prepared for the World Championships with a runner-up finish at the 2008 Greenway Gallivant in Florida in July.

Like Crandell, Cheryl Dell, from Springville, California, is riding in her first World Championship on Reason to Believe. The 10-year-old Arabian gelding was third in the Owyhee 100 in Idaho. This is the sole combination from the West Coast.

Two eight-year-old Arabians round out the group of six in Malaysia. Both Syrocco Reveille and Golden Lightning are contesting their first World Championships. Ridden by Dr. Meg Sleeper and Jan Worthington, respectively, they both have experienced pilots. Sleeper rode Saba Shams at last year’s test event in Terengganu and was part of the U.S. team at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany. Sleeper and Syrocco have had two top three finishes in North America in 2008.

Worthington, from Scales Mound, Illinois, and Golden Lightning won the Greenway Gallivant in July and Worthington was a member of the 2000 World Championship Team.

The competition gets underway at 5:30 p.m. local time on Friday November 7. For results and more information, visit www.malaysia-wec.com.

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