Team Omar strikes gold

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Brechin based endurance rider John Thomson and his pure bred Arabian gelding Prince Omar comfortably won their last competitive ride of the season in the 80-kilometre Highland Fling endurance ride.

The Endurance Great Britain Silver Medallist combination completed the demanding course in just over six hours and firmly moved themselves past the EGB Advanced Class to gold medallists.

John and Omar now qualify as Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) One Star horse and rider for the 2012 season.

The 80-kilometre Highland Fling is a demanding and at times very tough course that takes the riders through some spectacular Easter Ross countryside.

The first vet hold was at a short 24K into the course where John and Omar, ably supported by their crew former Inverbervie policeman Douglas Munro, cleared the vetting in 12 minutes.

The riders were then faced with a long pull of 36K along the side of Loch Morie and the Kildermorie estate back to the second vet hold at 60K.

Omar was again quickly vetted but a veterinary general recall for all horses resulted in one elimination on the re-check and a subsequent departure delay.

This meant that Team Omar went over hold time but a crew protest ensured that the time allowance was regained.

Although leaving last out of the vet hold John caught the lead rider five kilometres out and then went in front for the final 17 kilometres.

It has been a remarkable year for Team Omar, starting 300 miles south of home in the Cumbrian hills in April for the first EGB National Ride and concluding 200 miles north of home in Easter Ross.

Team Omar has worked extremely hard and, despite an injury during the time with the Red Rock Relay Team, finished the season on a high point.

Apart from the final competitive success of the weekend the entire week has proved a remarkable period for John, whose baby granddaughter Lucy was born in Edinburgh just as Team Omar was preparing to head north.

Further excitement came with the news that his book Drinking the Wind : At the limits of endurance had climbed into number three position of equestrian books on Amazon.

“We owe a great deal of thanks to a huge amount of people and especially to our nutritionist Jane Van Lennep of Simple Systems horse feeds,” he commented.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the farmers and residents around the Lochty and Balhall area for their support and patience during the last few months of training.

“A special thank you is also due to Valerie McLeod and Lindsay MacCabe at Cowford who provided us with the excellent facilities for Omar and have devoted so much of their time in “babysitting” a very special Arabian horse,” concluded John.