Lexington, Ky., October 15, 2009 -- HE Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates and 1996 Endurance World Champion Danielle McGunigal of the United States won the Kentucky Cup Endurance events October 14 at the Kentucky Horse Park, sponsored by Emirates Equestrian Federation, and the official endurance test event for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
HE Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum son of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, crossed the wire first in the CEI** 75 mile event in a ride time of 6:05:30. Danielle McGunigal finished the CEI*** in a ride time in 6:30:41. The CEI*** was originally an FEI qualifying event at a distance of 100 miles (160 km), but lost its status when it was shortened to 120 km after the footing became questionable in the inclement weather.
"I have mixed feelings about shortening the race," said McGunigal. "The footing was only getting worse. Some of the parts of the trail that we have to go over were already slippery and deep and if the race was kept at the original distance, we would have had to go over it again, so in that sense, I am glad they shortened it. But I was hoping to use this race to qualify my horse (Gold Raven) for next year, and now we have to do it at another event, so that is very disappointing."
Sheikh Majid was thrilled with his win despite the conditions.
"It was amazing. This is the sport that we most love. It's our history," said Sheikh Majid. "Given the weather today, the course was amazing. But the weather made it very difficult. There wasn't any hard part, other than the ground being a bit slippery. Other than that, it was excellent. There wasn't anything wrong or bad."
The rain was a recurring focus of the day, with a downpour shortly before the start of the rides. It continued throughout the day for all mandatory veterinary exams, creating a messy vet gate and slippery footing.
Two-time Endurance World Champion Valerie Kanavy and mother of Danielle McGunigal, was affected by the weather and footing. Kanavy was eliminated after her horse LM Parys fell on the second loop.
"We were crossing the road on the blacktop and she just slipped," said Kanavy. "She went down and I went right after. She has recovered and is doing fine now."
The event was aptly named as an endurance test. The endurance levels of the athletes from the 23 countries participating were truly tested. However, according to Mubarak Khalifa of the UAE the weather was no big deal. "Endurance riders are used to riding in all kinds of weather, so this is normal."
HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was expected to compete but did not made the trip to Kentucky due to commitments in Dubai.