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Bahrain wins two golds at World Endurance Championships

Bahrain wins two golds at World Endurance Championships

Abu Dhabi, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) Bahrain took both individual and team golds at the FEI Endurance World Championships on a day of drama over 160km, while four riders from China were disqualified before or during the race in Butheeb, the United Arab Emirates on Saturday.

A total of 119 starters from 23 teams and 34 nations and regions competed in the race, but only 44 riders and their horses finished the hot and sandy six-loop course and got through the veterinary inspections at the finish line.

Sheik Nasser bin Hamad, son of the King of Bahrain, claimed the first victory in his ninth endurance worlds, together with Darco La Marjorie, a 10-year-old gelding.

He was in the leading pack all day and crossed the finish line in third place behind two riders from the UAE, both of whom were pulled for high heart rates.

"We're No.1," a jubilant and surprised Sheik Nasser shouted as he hoisted the Bahrain flag after learning of the win from the ground jury member.

Defending champion Salem Hamad Saeed Al Kitbi of the UAE settled for the silver on Haleh, a 12-year-old chestnut mare, and Jaume Punti Dachs on Echo Falls, a 17-year-old gelding, earned bronze for Spain.

Bahrain also won the team gold in dramatic fashion, as both the UAE and Spain, who have dominated the FEI Endurance World Championship team standings in recent years, had horses and riders eliminated throughout the day.

France secured the silver as their four riders came in 11th through 14th. Portugal captured team bronze.

China participated in the championships as a team with four riders having qualified, but Cheng Zhaoyi was disqualified before the start, Jia Guilin was eliminated after the first loop and Wang Zhiqiang and Sui Bo left after the third loop with horse welfare paramount.

"We are sad with the result, but not losing our fighting spirit. The four riders have made a deal with each other to come back next year," said Huang Yuandong, a Chinese team official.
UNI XINHUA RKM

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