RAF Cranwell, normally home to aircrafts, played host to Endurance Great Britain’s third major national ride last weekend.
The event attracted hundreds of riders and horses from across the UK for a competition spread over three days.
Brechin based rider John Thomson and his pure bred Arabian gelding Prince Omar made the journey south to join some of his N&T Group team mates, all of whom were scheduled for the big distance race rides of 160kms over two days, one day 80kms and John and Omar in the 100kms CER one day class.
In a cloudless early morning the mass start went over the line at 07.31 a.m.
For a race ride it was a fairly sedate start due to a short section of tarmac that led into heavily rutted and root laden forest tracks but within a couple of kilometres, nerves had passed and the riders had settled down to a steady but quick endurance trot before the pace shifted up a gear.
In the flat terrain, the bridleways and wide grassy verges meant the pace quickened to allow for lengthy sections of fast cantering, and crews leapfrogged along the route to ensure that horse and rider combinations were adequately supported.
A calm and collected Team Omar came into Vet Gate 1 at 41kms, 10 seconds in the lead and in just over two hours riding time.
With the clock still running Omar was vetted in less than seven minutes before going into the 30 minute hold time.
As the sun and temperatures rose the fast pace and rock hard ground witnessed a steady stream of eliminations. With the distance split into 41-41-20kms it was necessary to repeat the same sections.
Just about two kilometres from the finish and in a badly rutted section of track whilst trying to avoid a vandalised man hole cover one shoe clipped the edge of the metal cover to open up a nasty cut in Omar’s front leg and damaging the shoe in the process.
John explained: “Even the shoes with tungsten tipped road nails had taken a hammering in the bone dry conditions.
“We don’t tend to play with statistics too much but it’s a fact of life in endurance that the sport is not an amble in the countryside nor is it a sedate pony trek.
“The further the race distance and the faster the speed the more likelihood of minor strains taking place. Unfortunately in this case it was an injury put firmly down to a blatant and dangerous act of vandalism.”
Despite the temporary setback and disappointment, Team Omar had performed to a remarkably high standard especially in a Major National Ride, producing their fastest time on record. Omar’s recovery was impressive and the cut and bruise repaired very quickly.