Endurance racing in the UAE has again been brought to a halt as the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) tries to wrest further undertakings about horse protection from the Emirates Equestrian Federation (EEF).
Four upcoming race-rides were notified to EEF members as “postponed” on Tuesday night, with no reason initially offered.
However FEI endurance director Manuel Bandeira de Mello flew into Abu Dhabi for an emergency meeting on Wednesday. He later told Telegraph Sport the EEF has until February 11 to explain how it will solve its “serious issues.” Until then, rides are called off, including three at Sheikh Mohammed’s venue, Dubai International Endurance City (DIEC).
Last March, the UAE was suspended for four months, after a catalogue of doping scandals and horse fatalities. Endurance horses race over 80km-160km in a single day – though in the desert sport, many of them under jobbing jockeys who have never seen their mounts before, and over punishing, fast sand tracks.
Many scandals have been exposed by the Telegraph, including the running of ringers by sons of Sheikh Mohammed, and extensive falsifying of results by the EEF.
But although the EEF was threatened with further suspension if matters did not improve the current winter season, there has been little progress. Seven horses have been officially confirmed dead, one chased into a perimeter rail by a TV car, breaking its leg.
Matters came to a head again last Saturday, when five riders – including first three over the line – were disqualified from a juniors’ 120km ride at Sheikh Mansour’s Al Wathba track for beating their horses, their grooms illegally running onto the track to help bully the exhausted horses over the finish line.
Shocking footage posted by live-stream provider YAS went viral, leading for calls on social media for the UAE to be re-suspended immediately, and for DIEC to be stripped of the right to host December’s world championship event.
On Sunday, footage later emerged of the rider eventually awarded first prize also flogging his horse. However although the FEI Legal department has considered all options, there is no mechanism to disqualify in hindsight. Another horse died on Saturday.
De Mello said: “Following meetings between the FEI and the Emirates Equestrian Federation (EEF), the EEF has postponed four endurance events so that agreement can be reached on proposed measures to urgently address a number of serious issues in endurance in the region.”
Source: The Telegraph
Currently rated by 0 people