Sunday 19 November - 17h52 | Lulu Kyriacou
Dead Or Alive? The Not So Strange Case of Altered Results
For the second weekend in a row, there have been fatalities in a United Arab Emirates endurance ride, this time in the AL MARMOOM ENDURANCE CUP – CEN 120 KM. But the two horses concerned here are particularly special. They rose from the dead when the results were altered an hour or two after being published on the official scorer's website, Tawqeet.
The original result
The ride was organised by the Dubai International Equestrian Club in association with the Emirates Equestrian Federation. Catswhisker Tiro Centauri, a ten-year-old chestnut gelding, and Kurrajong Unique a 16-year-old bay gelding were both listed on the original live scores as CI, Catastrophically Injured. Catswhisker Tiro Centauri apparently met his end on the second loop, and poor Kurrajong Unique did not even get as far as that, he was out the first gate. The horses are both registered in the UAE and both appear to come from the same training stable although Kurrajong Unique was ridden by a Bangladeshi national Nur Mohommod Ali Bablu. Catswhisker was ridden by a more experienced rider, Khalifa Mohammed Saeed Salem ALKHYELI.
Not dead after all........ ?
An hour or so after the race finished a check on the results found that the CI had been changed to FTC (Failed To Complete) but whoever amended those results failed to amend the overall statistics of the race which are almost equally horrifying. Of 129 starters, staggeringly three-quarters of them (97) did not finish as they were eliminated for one reason or another. Four other horses are listed as FTC, all of whom were travelling at speeds in excess of 25kph at least. It would not be the first time results have been changed after the event or the first time FTC has been used to hide a fatality. There were the noted cases of Moon's Sundance in 2016 and Shardell Azreyn in 2015 who were both listed as FTC but both had catastrophic injuries on course. And we must not forget the case in Bahrain, this year, which is still to be satisfactorily explained.........
The thing about an FTC result is that the horse conveniently disappears into the ether. A Failed to Qualify score indicates the horse was seen at a gate by the vets and ground jury and did not pass inspection. Failed To Complete can happen anywhere on course and is not seen by officials. As this was a national ride, the FEI can wash their hands of it, and almost certainly will. But if the two horses are alive, a short video of their microchips being scanned will earn a full retraction from this publication....... It is though, hard to know which is the greater tragedy; the dead horses we know about or that the world's equestrian powers are turning a blind eye to them, the doctored results and other abuses we will never know about.
Exactly a year ago at the World Horse Welfare conference, His Highness Sheikh Sultan Al Nahyan presented his enlightened vision of how the 'sport' of endurance should be run and announced the Boudheib Initiative, a series of international competitions run under protocols where the horses who finished in the best condition would score as high if not higher than those who crossed the line first. Although those proposals have been adopted by rides in several countries, the FEI continues to resist making them the mandatory protocol for international endurance qualifiers. Why is that? The Boudheib way has shown itself to epitomise the spirit of traditional endurance; rides over natural terrain where welfare and keeping the horses in good condition are paramount. Doesn't the FEI have a whole set of rules, regulations and guidelines for welfare, so surely they would embrace Sheik Sultan's principles wholeheartedly? One wonders who many horses will have to die before action is taken as obviously previous half-baked sanctions have had no effect at all.
Talking of welfare, abuse and the FEI, the federation sent out a reminder letter two weeks ago reminding judges, technical delegates and stewards what the yellow warning card was for and when it should be used. If one correlates the riders of now dead horses with the disciplinary list for endurance, such reminders are clearly needed and the list itself makes for interesting reading.
Considering there are only approximately 7000 endurance riders registered with the FEI, compared to say nearly 22'000 showjumpers, it is telling that of the 38 athletes currently suspended, two-thirds of them are endurance riders, nearly all of whom are from the FEI Group 7 states....... Enough said really.
Monday 20 November - 16h44