Well actually I didn’t compete myself, but it felt like I was because I attended the HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Cup Festival in Euston Park and had the opportunity to follow all the behind the scenes action. As I haven’t been familiar with this part of equestrian sport I really didn’t know what to expect. My perception that endurance is a race whereby the first horse who obtains the finish line wins, wasn’t strongly correct. There is a lot more strategic input required in the daily training, because wining or losing depends on the welfare of the horse.The Euston Park Endurance Cup Festival is the third and final leg of the Endurance Masters. There are 700 competitors from all around the world and it really feels like a World Championships or a World Cup, it is the United Nations of Endurance Riding. It is the biggest ride ever staged in Europe, the prize money going towards the best conditioned horse with a record prize money in Europe (2 million pounds) and also it is an incentive for the riders to travel to Europe to compete in His Highness’s Cup.The Euston Park Endurance organization team decided to make it free entry fee for all to encourage as many people here, to enjoy the facilities here. You’ve got to remember that the continental riders have got to come across the channel, so it’s expensive before they even start, so they’ve helped them with their travel costs as well. It is very worthwhile doing all this for the competitors because this is a vision, to make Endurance available to all, and that is what they’re trying to do today.
Event Director, Nick Brooks-Ward tell us a bit more about the event:
Nick B-W: For starting the ride riders get 1500 euros. If the riders complete the ride they get a further 1000 euros, and that excludes the prize money. So if they win the prize money too, it’s happy days.
EquestrianLifestyle: Please could you mention the party that took place on Friday night.
Nick B-W: We tried to make this available to all and everybody to have a good time, so last night we threw a party that we thought maybe 750-1000 people would come and we had 1250 and everybody had a fabulous time. They are all talking about it this morning which has put everyone in a great mood, we laid on some fabulous entertainment for them – it was a great party atmosphere with great bands.
EquestrianLifestyle: What makes the UK endurance masters the most significant endurance event in the UK?
Nick B-W: The UK Endurance Masters is the biggest endurance event ever staged in Europe. What makes it different is the sheer volume of people we’ve had to cope with here, the sheer volume of horses and 35 different nations all speaking different languages. That is what has made it different, it’s very exciting.
EquestrianLifestyle: Please talk us through the course?
Nick B-W: Our riders are going off on a series of loops, the pink loop being the longest of 40km and the red loop being the shortest at 20km. They complete a series of loops to make up their mileage, their KM rate. If they are doing 160km, they are doing 5 loops. The 120km ride they are doing 4 loops (all different) and on the 80km they are doing 3 loops of different routes. They go off and ride on varying terrain, through water and parklands. It’s a fabulous course.
EquestrianLifestyle: Please could you explain what it means to have the HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s support?
Nick B-W: HH Sheikh Mohammed is undoubtedly the biggest supporter of endurance in the world, quite possibly horse racing as well, in fact I am sure horse racing as well. It means such a huge amount to all of the riders to come here and enjoy the fabulous facilities, to have an incentive to join us here and his vision is to make a world endurance family and I do believe that us, Tiderra and Pizza, his three legs of his Endurance Cup Festival are helping that and everybody is coming to have a good time and enjoy riding across different courses, and that’s the vision.
EquestrianLifestyle: How do you ensure the safety of the horses and their welfare?
Nick B-W: Horse welfare is the most important factor, and rider welfare, let’s not forget that. We have 27 vets all representing different nations, all different skills, all different abilities – so we are covering everything. We have got one of the top equine bone surgeons in the world. We also have 4 equine ambulances that are staged around the course, we have a treatment centre, we have Newmarket equine hospital ready and waiting should anything happen and we need to get a horse into treatment. Humans, they are equally as important. We have approximately 46 medics on course, all in strategic locations, all in 4×4’s so they can get to all necessary places. We can track the horses and riders, we can get to them.
After every loop the horses need to pass the vet check to see if their heartbeat is under 64 beats a minute.
I had the opportunity to follow British endurance rider Anna Williams. She competed in the 120 km race and it was wonderful to see how her whole team was so dedicated to support her and her horse! Lots of water to cool down the horse is a must during the race.
We followed Anna by car and during her first stop I noticed how quick and well organized the team took action.
Why do you love endurance?
Anna: The time you spend with horse. You are together for a whole day in the beautiful nature. Besides that endurance is real teamwork, my family is involved and that’s makes it really wonderful to do!
Well done team Anna ! #118
I had a great weekend at the Euston Park Endurance !