|Malaysia to host World Endurance Championship|
IT'S confirmed! Malaysia will get to host the 2008 World Endurance Championship after passing the final test set by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) in Lembah Bidong, Setiu, yesterday.
2008 FEI World Endurance Championship
World titles will be up for renewal and grabs this year as the 12th FEI World Endurance Championship edge their way closer. Indeed, from 6 to 9 November 2008, Terengganu in Malaysia will be host to defending, aspiring and future World champions.
The nominated entry date and definite entry dates for the 2008 FEI World Endurance Championship to be held from 6-9 November in Terengganu (MAS) are:
Nominated Entry: 21 August
And yet it seems it was only yesterday that Miguel Vila Urbach clenched the first Spanish individual World Endurance gold at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen with record attendance – while the French convincingly took team gold amid torrential rains and abundant smile..
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He came to Bidong Valley, he saw the Terengganu International Endurance Park, he rode his horse for about ten and a half hours and he conqeured the 2007 Terengganu Endurance Challenge.
But that was just a beginning for 25-year-old Naser Marzouqi who hails from the United Arab Emirates and whose thirst for success could only be quenched by winning the FEI World Endurance Championship.
For that, come rain or shine, he must return again next year to Setiu, Terengganu, to continue his quest to become the best endurance rider in the world.
Of course, the Sultan's Cup champion would be hoping for less rain this time around as the excessive rain was probably the one thing he did not particularly like about the world championship venue.
Naser said he had a taste of the monsoon rain during the recent race and he admitted to encountering some problems in manouvering the horse in heavy downpour.
"I don't mind a little rain as it helps tremendously in reducing heat but out here, as far as I know, I don't think there's such a thing as little rain.
"I guess I managed to make the best of the continous rain during the race as I ended up with the trophy but maybe next year, we could compete under a more favourable weather condition," he said.
Naser added, apart from the wet condition, he could not get enough of Terengganu and he was quick to add that the state was one of the beautiful place he had ever visited.
"I like everything here, from the foods to the people, from the beaches to the race course, and I especially like the fact that I have won my second major title here.
"My first title was in Dubai last year when I won the King's Cup and come to think of it, I am only good in collecting royalty's cup thus far," he said referring to the Sultan's Cup he had just won.
But all that could change next year and Naser said he could hardly wait to come back to Bidong Valley to bid for the FEI World Endurance Champion title.
However, the horse rider from the United Arab Emirates who clinched the King's Cup in Dubai last year was a long shot at best in the recently concluded Sultan's Cup at the Terengganu International Endurance Park, in Bidong Valley, Setiu, Terengganu.
After all, world highest ranking endurance rider Jack Begaud of France was also competing and if that was not enough, world number two Spanish Maria Mercedes Alvarez Ponton was also in contention for the prestigious cup.
Naser, astride 12-year-old mare Hafiza Du Mas, did not have the most perfect start in the race as Malaysian Faizal Ismail, riding ten-year-old gelding Rayyan, was first to arrive at the first two gates.
But consistency was the name of the game and while Naser continued to stay second best for the next four rounds until the final stretch when he and Hafiza Du Mas managed to cross the finish line in first place.
Faizal ended the race in tenth place while Begaud had to settle for second although he and his 11-year-old gelding Idais Tohiba were also within a chance of winning the cup.
They were only one minute and 23 seconds behind but the Frenchman, when met later at the prize presentation ceremony, said Naser had deservedly won the race.
Begaud who was competing for the first time in Bidong Valley said the rain-soaked and muddied track had made it difficult for him and his horse as they were not used to the conditions.
"But then again, a lot of other riders, including the champion, have never been here before, and they all had to get used to the local conditions just like me," he said.
Ponton, meanwhile, finished seventh and she said it was a fair result for her as her main objective was to familiarise herself with the venue for next year's FEI World Endurance Championship.
The battle for third place was won by another UAE rider Khalid Al Shafar who was only a second faster than fourth place finisher Brazillian Maria Vitoria Lins on gelding Filoteu Rach.
Yang di Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, riding 13-year-old gelding Harmere Cairo, completed the race in 23rd position.
A total of 41 riders from Malaysia, Spain, France, Qatar, Argentina, Brazil, The United States, Japan and Belgium took part in the three-day event from 9 to 11 November.