By Real Riderz
On July 27 through 31, a small, little known country called Bulgaria hosted a final featured on FEI. The final is called the FEI World Challenge Finals, and you can find more information about it here. In essence the final aims to create opportunity from lack of opportunity by giving riders with less FEI experience from less developed countries the chance to compete at an international final on borrowed horses.
The welcome competition proved to be a bit rocky for some at the height of 115cm, yet many took advantage of that in order to get to know their partners as well as possible. We saw a few familiar faces of young teens that competed at the Youth Equestrian Games back in CHIO Aachen and a few older competitors that were experienced in their own right. The first qualifying competition (again at the height of 115cm) was won by Juan Felipe Gonzales (Columbia) and Larissa (2011) while Alireza Khoshdel (Iran) with Leman (2012) and Martina Rossi Sobrero (Uruguay) with Cardino 12 (2009) were second and third respectively. That left Vanessa Atanasova (Bulgaria) with Alegra (2016) in fourth and Marco Antionio Modesto (Brazil) with Kalistra (2009) in fifth.
The second qualifying competition (height 120cm) was won by Alireza Khoshdel (Iran) and Leman (2012). Second place was Layan Al Mommani (Jordan) with Darling (2006) and third was Juan Felipe Gonzales (Columbia) and Larissa (2011). Fourth and fifth was Kate Alison (Namibia) with Kevoar (2013) and Christie Paige Nair (Singapore) and Dars (2015). Unfortunately for Bulgarian rider Erduhan Sami, his horse, Valesko T (1998) ended up lame mid course which is why he retired. Alexandra Ric-Hansen of Republic of South Africa and Dexter (2015) struggled to find a relationship throughout the several days and the pair ended up withdrawing from the farewell competition.
The top eight made it to the final while the rest battled it out in the farewell competition. The farewell competition was won by Jenna Gilchrist from Namibia and Eddy Kip Cool (2006). Christie Paige Nair of Singapore and Dars (2015) placed second whole Zandi Alcock from Republic of South Africa and Nostradamus (2006) ended up third with five people competing in total.
The final competition of the challenge was one by the only double clear of the competition from an experienced Iranian rider named Alireza Khoshdel and Leman (2012). This was the only horse and rider pair that stayed clear from the welcome competition to the final. Second place was taken by Ignacio Barreiro from Ecuador riding Mona Lisa (2008) despite having a run out in one of the lines and ending with several faults from the days prior. The bronze was won by Kate Alison and Kevoar (2013) for Nambia. The pair had twelve faults the first round (which is what caused them to finish third) but finished the second round on a clean slate and had two clean courses throughout the competition.
A re-live of the event can be seen on the official FEI YouTube channel by clicking here.