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Bahrain third in Paris challenge

BAHRAIN'S Royal Endurance Team bagged third place overall in the Compiegne International Endurance Horseride Championship at the Compiegne racecourse near Paris.The team, captained by Bahrain Royal Equestrian and Endurance Federation (Breef) president Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, completed the six-stage, 160-km race in 11 hours, 25 minutes and 20 seconds.

They were behind champions France who crossed the finish line first in 9:31.08, followed by Belgium (10:08:36) in second place.

The four-member Bahraini squad consisted of Mohammed Abdulaziz, Yousif Taher and Ghazi Al Dossary apart from Shaikh Nasser.

The race was dominated by French riders who took the top four positions in the individual event with Thomas Philippe finishing first in 1:12.30, followed by compatriot Begaud Jacque (1:01:12) in second place, Dietsch Pascal (1:06:55) third and Lemoine Maryli (1:08:10) fourth.

Bahrain's Abdulaziz finished ninth overall in 1:19.57, Taher was 13th in 1:30.30, while Al Dossary withdrew from the race following an injury to its horse.

Apart from Bahrain, 11 other nations - Algeria, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Oman, Pakistan, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the UAE - took part in the championship but only 17 riders completed the race.

Top officials from Compiegne Province attended the event and presented trophies to the top three teams and the first 15 riders in the individual event at a prize-giving ceremony.

Shaikh Nasser expressed satisfaction with the performance of his team both in the team event and the individual category.

"We took this race very seriously and were keen to complete it without any injuries as we have a number of other races to take part in Europe in the next two months," said Shaikh Nasser.

It is Bahrain's second appearance at the Compiegne racecourse having taken part in the 2005 Europen Championship which was held at the same venue and attended by His Majesty King Hamad.

"This race was a qualifier for the 2007 Europe Endurance Horseride Championship to be staged in Portugal in September and those who complete three races over 160 kms will qualify for this prestigious event," added Shaikh Nasser.

"It's a privilege to be taking part in such a prestigious event. The result is also very good despite the fact that we took part in this event without our main horses. The horses we took part are in are the ones based in Europe," said Shaikh Nasser.

"The environment here is amazing and the Equestrian Stadium has a top quality circuit with excellent sand tracks," he said.

The team will return today from Paris and continue preparations for future races to be held in the UK and France next month.

Results (in order of country, horse, total time):

Individual event: 1 Thomas Philippe (France, Joel Gabirat, 1:12:30 hrs), 2 Begaud Jacque (France, Koum Des Jamets, 1:01:12), 3 Dietsch Pascal (France, Hifrane Dui Barth, 1:06:55), 4 Lemoine Maryli (France, Sherahki, 1:08:10), 5 Van Den Abeele (Belgium, Epson Dela Brus, 1:09:13) 6 Mosti Laurent (France, Xalene Dela Dro, 1:13:13).



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