Slovakia to host world endurance championships

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gallop-endurance400Slovakia will host this year’s world endurance championship in mid-September. The FEI Bureau decided yesterday on the replacement venue for the United Arab Emirates, which was stripped of the event earlier this year.

The bureau made the unanimous decision during its monthly teleconference meeting, mirroring the full backing given to the Slovakian bid by the FEI Endurance Committee.

Three formal bids were lodged to host the championships after Dubai’s plans to stage the event in December were scuppered by the bureau in April, saying it was of the view that, despite progress, the UAE national federation was not in a position to guarantee that horse welfare would be fully protected.

The UAE has been at the centre of a series of endurance controversies, at one point having its membership of the FEI provisionally suspended over welfare concerns in the discipline.

The bids for the endurance championship came from Samorin in Slovakia, Fontainebleau in France, and San Rossore in Pisa, Italy.

The bureau ruled that neither of the other two proposed venues was suitable due to concerns over welfare and safety. Both venues proposed mid-October dates, meaning that the rides would start and finish in the dark, potentially putting horses and riders at risk. There is also increased potential for heavy rain in these areas at that time of year.

The Samorin Equestrian Centre, the brain-child of Slovakian businessman Mario Hoffmann, staged a successful FEI European Endurance Championships last year.

The 2016 world championships will run from September 15-18, with the qualification period ending on July 16.

FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said the world governing body was happy to receive three bids, and appreciated their willingness to support the FEI at such short notice for this year’s championships.

“But the bureau had no hesitation in opting for Samorin,” she said.

“Horse welfare has to be the most important element in the allocation of these major events and Samorin has a proven track record, having already run both the young horse and European Endurance Championships very successfully.

“The timing of the championships was also important and, with the three bids all coming from Europe, the bureau felt that a September date was more appropriate. Both Fontainebleau and San Rossore were proposing mid-October when the reduced daylight hours could potentially have an impact on safety.

“Safeguarding the safety and welfare of the equine and human athletes is our top priority in all our disciplines.”

Driving championships

The bureau allocated the 2016 FEI World Driving Championships for Young Horses to Mezöhegyes, Hungary.

The championships, which were reallocated following the withdrawal of original host venue, Conty, France, will run from September 8-11.

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