Horseware Ireland CEO Tom MacGuinness has won his first international endurance ride, leading from start to finish to take out the two-star 120km race at Olot in Catalunya, Spain, last weekend.
MacGuinness, 66, has made a remarkable rise in the sport, having taken it up only in 2013 at the age of 60. He is now Ireland’s top-ranked Endurance athlete, and has set his sights on the World Equestrian Games in the USA later this year.
“It was an amazing race. Actually the incline and decline was more steep than what there will be in Tryon (at the World Equestrian Games) or in Biltmore (North Carolina USA) for that matter. A very similar course to what we will be doing at WEG,” MacGuinness said.
“The plan was to run in a fast 120 and then to leave him until the actual race to see what he had in the tank and he certainly had plenty at the end – we did the last loop at 30km per hour. I think by the time WEG comes he will be in magnificent shape, he is a very sound horse. I have had very a good month. I was 11th in Tryon (test event for WEG) out of 80 starters and third at Biltmore out of 45.”
MacGuinness, the founder and CEO of Horseware Ireland, has previously enjoyed success in eventing, show jumping and polo. His company employs 172 people in Dundalk, 47 staff at Kinston in North Carolina, and 514 people in factories in China and Cambodia.
Endurance started as a sport in the United States, where the US cavalry tested its horses on a five-day, 300-mile (483km) ride, with each horse carrying over 200lbs (91kg). It did not become a competitive sport until the 1950s, when Wendell Robie traced the Pony Express route from Nevada to California in under 24 hours.
Each rider must safely manage the stamina and fitness of their horse and each course is divided into phases with a compulsory break for a veterinary inspection, or ‘vet gate’, after each. Each horse must be presented for inspection within a set time of reaching each ‘vet gate’, which determines whether it is fit to continue.