Uruguay dominates Pan-American endurance champs

Oriana Ricca (URU) with Amarillo HLM won Senior Individual gold and Senior Team gold on home soil in Trinidad, Uruguay, at the FEI Pan-American Endurance Championships.
Oriana Ricca (URU) with Amarillo HLM won Senior Individual gold and Senior Team gold on home soil in Trinidad, Uruguay, at the FEI Pan-American Endurance Championships. © Contraluz Producciones Visuales/FEI

Uruguay made a clean sweep of the FEI Pan-American Endurance Championships for Seniors, Young Riders & Juniors for the second year running last weekend

They took Team and Individual gold on home turf at the hippodrome in Trinidad, the capital city of Flores in southern Uruguay.

Chile claimed bronze in the Senior category and team silver in the Junior/Young Rider category, with Brazil completing the team medal line out with silver in the Senior Championship.

Uruguay, following their success last year, were aiming high from the outset. The Senior and Junior/Young Rider Championships had a starting field of 21 horse and rider combinations apiece with representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, the USA and of course, last year’s Champions Uruguay.

Following a recent conversion to a top-of-the-range endurance facility, the hippodrome provided a great base for teams and horses alike.

The Pan-American Championships is run over a distance of 120km and this year’s course was made up of 4 loops, the last of which was repeated resulting in a 5 loop competition – always an advantage to those athletes with horses that present quickly in a vet gate. The course was fairly flat and covered predominantly country dirt roads with the occasional controlled highway crossing. The track took on the now familiar clover leaf structure with all loops arriving and departing on the original race track of the hippodrome.

The competition was tight in both categories, but as the day progressed, Uruguay ensured that victory would be theirs once again. The Senior Individual Championship, with a minimum riding weight of 75kg, was won by the young Uruguayan Oriana Ricca aboard the eye-catching Amarillo HLM. At only 17 years old, she also recently finished fourth in the Junior/Young Rider World Championships in Tarbes (FRA) and also won bronze in the 2011 World Championships. Whilst remaining within sight of the leaders all day, she waited until the latter stages of the race to move to the front. In doing so, she ensured that her 11-year-old stallion remained in 1st position on the final loop crossing the line 27 seconds in front of Argentine Gabriel Morgui and his 10-year-old mare HLP Astica. Bronze went to Uruguay as 10 minutes later the 9-year-old gelding JG Safi Zafra ridden by Nicolas Rodriguez Villamil crossed the line. Villamill won gold in the Junior/Young Rider Pan-American Championships last year.

With three combinations finishing in the top 5, Uruguay took team gold with ease in a total time of 17:13:01, well over one hour ahead of second-placed Brazil. Finally Chile, the only other nation to have three successful finishers, took bronze with a finishing time of 19:19:25.

The Junior/Young Rider Individual Championship was certainly closely fought with all three medal winners finishing within three and a half minutes of one another – all with a faster overall speed than their Senior counterparts. Uruguay reigned supreme once again taking the top two places with Maria Pereira and her bay mare SM Lady Adela crossing the line first just over 2 minutes ahead of compatriot Frederik Maidana aboard the 8-year-old JQ Zarial, despite them putting in the fastest last loop of the day at 29.53kph.

Pereira was also part of the Uruguayan contingent competing in Tarbes this summer. As an elite rider, Pereira is able to compete in Championships on horses with whom she has not completed the qualification criteria as a combination. Her performance in Tarbes saw her finish 14th aboard British-based horse Lara Lark. Chile rounded up the podium with Paula Llorens and the 11-year-old gelding Sandek. This combination pose a formidable force having now finished every one of the international races they have started. This was the pair’s seventh event together, and the first time they have not won.

Unfortunately, only two nations were able to successfully finish three combinations. Once again, Uruguay came out on top with an incredible overall time of just 15:56:55. Chile won their 2nd team medal of the Championships when winning silver in a very respectable total time of 17:33:56.

Reporting: Anna Williams


Senior Team
Gold: Uruguay (Oriana Ricca with Amarillo HLM / Nicolas Rodriguez Villamil with JQ Safi Zafra / Antonio Guillen with Misterio Molles – total time 17:13:01)
Silver: Brazil (Rafaela Moreira Barreto with Amyra EL Emir / Andre Vidiz with SM Bomberito / Leo Steinbruch with Halpern Endurance – total time – 18:35:56)
Bronze: Chile (David Ramirez with RP Bordolino / Lukas Buckel with IFO Kuma / Andre Alvarez with Ladino – total time 19:19:25)

Junior/Young Rider Team
Gold: Uruguay (Maria Pereira with SM Lady Adela / Frederik Maidana with JQ Zarial / Victoria Ferber with Yarara la Flechilla – total time 15:56:55)
Silver: Chile (Paula Llorens with Sandek / Benjamin Boetsch with Khadijah / Jose Antonio Vicente with Marquen – total time 17:33:56)

Senior Individual 
Gold: Oriana Ricca (URU) with Amarillo HLM – 22.71kph / 05:29:30
Silver: Gabriel Morgui (ARG) with HLP Astica – 22.68kph / 05:29:57
Bronze: Nicolas Rodriguez Villamil (URU) with JG Safi Zafra – 21.96kph / 05:40:41

Junior/Young Rider Individual
Gold: Maria Pereira (URU) with SM Lady Adela – 23.72kph / 05:15:29
Silver: Frederik Maidana (URU) with JQ Zarial – 23.55kph / 05:17:43
Bronze: Paula Llorens (CHI) with Sandek – 23.46kph / 05:18:55


World Young Horse Endurance Champion  Secret de Mon Coeur, ridden by Aurelian Rocchia for France.
World Young Horse Endurance Champion Secret de Mon Coeur, ridden by Aurelian Rocchia for France. © Gilly Wheeler/FEI

FEI World Endurance Championships for Young Horses 

by Anna Williams

French rider Aurelien Rocchia aboard Secret de Mon Coeur won individual gold, ahead of Spain’s Silvia Yebra Altimiras with Espoir de Bozouls, and Laurent Mosti (FRA) took bronze on Doria de Jansavis at the FEI World Endurance Championships for Young Horses in Italy at the weekend.

On Saturday, September 28, 67 horses crossed the start line at 6.30am to contest this Championships where just individual honours were at stake. It was a strong field, with representatives from 13 nations. Home nation Italy fielded the largest number of starters with 22 rider and horse combinations, with France – fresh with medal success following their team gold at the FEI Open European Endurance Championships just two weeks ago – not far behind with 18 starters. They were joined by 27 combinations from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Oman, Slovakia, Sweden and the UAE.

The competition venue was based in Valeggio Sul Mincio, a small Italian commune in the region of Vaneto, about 120km west of Venice. The course was 120km long, made up of 3 loops, one of which was repeated making 4 loops in total.

Right from the start, the front runners set a hard pace over the initial 40km loop, but as the day panned out, it became apparent that those athletes opting for a slightly steadier cruising speed would come out on top. The leaders covered the initial loop at just over 20kph and the top five at this first vet gate had representatives from the UAE, France, Italy and Spain. The second loop was much shorter, measuring just 22.5km, and the speed remained consistent into vet gate 2. With the top 15 athletes within 20 minutes of the leader it was very much an open race at this stage.

Loop 3 proved to be the biggest challenge of the day. Here, the distance stepped up to 35km and it became apparent that those combinations travelling at the higher speeds were starting to feel the tough questions posed by this deceiving track. In total, 16 horses were judged unfit to continue at this final vet gate, allowing those that had saved enough petrol in the tank to really come into their own. The leading rider out on to the last loop of just 22.5km, a repeat of the earlier loop 2, had an advantage of just over 19 minutes ahead of 2nd placed endurance great Laurent Mosti (FRA) onboard the impressive grey mare Doria de Jansavis. But with 7 combinations leaving within 5 minutes of Mosti to cover the final stages, the competition was fierce.

On the podium for the FEI World Endurance Championships for Young Horses are (L-R): Silver medalist Silvia Yebra Altimiras (ESP), gold medallist Aurelien Rocchia (FRA) and bronze medallist Laurent Mosti (FRA)
On the podium for the FEI World Endurance Championships for Young Horses are (L-R): Silver medalist Silvia Yebra Altimiras (ESP), gold medallist Aurelien Rocchia (FRA) and bronze medallist Laurent Mosti (FRA). © Gilly Wheeler/FEI

In the end, the UAE’s Sheikh Khalifa bin Mohammed al Hamed stopped his horse during the final loop allowing those initially trailing by nearly 20 minutes to take the lead. French rider Aurelien Rocchia with his gelding Secret de Mon Coeur put in a storming final loop to take gold in a thrilling sprint finish alongside Spaniard Silvia Yebra Altimiras riding the French bred chestnut gelding Espoir de Bozouls. Mosti took bronze, crossing the line just 2 seconds behind but his mare was later awarded the prestigious Best Condition accolade.

Fourth place went to another French rider, Emilie Lambert. Her striking mare Birmany Font Noire was one of the quickest presenting horses all day, averaging just 1 minute 49 seconds at each vet gate. Fifth place saw another sprint finish, this time between Sweden’s Maria Hagman Eriksson, French rider Lauriane Recoules and Ali Hassan Al Farsi of Oman. The bay gelding Al Tayar ridden by Hagman Eriksson won the sprint and in doing so secured Sweden’s best finish at a Championship for many years.

In all, over 50% of the participants completed successfully with nearly all federations entered having a successful completion.

Ian Williams, FEI Director for Endurance was exceedingly pleased with the Championships. “This testing event posed many a question of these young horses and it was those that were brought gradually through the field, stepping up in the placings as the day progressed, that were able to show their true class in the end,” he said. “What an exciting future Endurance has with young horses of such calibre”.


Final Results
Gold: Aurelien Rocchia (FRA) with Secret de Mon Coeur (06:10:37, 19.427kph)
Silver: Silvia Yebra Altimiras (ESP) with Espoir de Bozouls (06:10:38, 19.426kph)
Bronze: Laurent Mosti (FRA) with Doria de Jansavis (06:10:40, 19.424kph)


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