In a close-fought battle, the host nation of Kazakhstan clinched team gold at the FEI Central Asia Jumping Championships 2013 in Astana last weekend where Uzbekistan's Umit Kamilov came out on top in a two-way tussle for the Individual title. Horse-and-rider combinations from Russia, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan lined out during the three-day fixture which took place at the Kazanat racetrack in Kazakhstan's capital city.
Kazakhstan is the world's largest landlocked country and the ninth largest country in the world. With over one million square miles of territory it is bigger than Western Europe, and it is neighboured, clockwise from the north, by Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, also bordering the Caspian Sea. Kazakhstan has been hosting FEI events since 1993.
Victory for Erjan Magzhaev and Privat in the opening 1.20m Speed class was the perfect start for the host country. There were eight clear rounds from 38 starters, and Uzbekistan's Okil Sabirzhanov and Tayson were more than seven seconds slower when slotting into runner-up spot ahead of Russia's Juliya Seredova and Irbit who were a further second off the pace in third.
Sabirzhanov topped the following day's Two-Phase competition in which the second-round fences stood at 1.30m. There were 22 starters in this class and three were eliminated in the opening round while there was a total of seven first-round clears. Only the eventual winner and Russia's Alexander Tishkov recorded double-clear performances however, Tishkov and Calipso having to settle for second place when Sabirzhanov's Tayson broke the beam fractionally quicker.
And the strength of the Kazakh squad was underlined when home riders filled six of the top nine placings in this class including Magzhaev with Camelot in third and Iriina Sverchkova with Kholidey in fourth.
The team medal-decider also took place on the second day with four nations, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Russia, each represented by full teams of four horse-and-rider combinations. Kyrgyzstan held a significant five-point lead at the halfway stage when Valentina Dubolazova's 12 faults with Zemfira was discounted and only the eight collected by both Azim Kermaliev (Landame) and Renat Galimov (Arman) had to be added to the four picked up by anchorman Sadyr Mamytov (Tuintendro) bringing the total to 20.
The Kazakhs lay second with 25 faults ahead of Russia in third with 28 and Uzbekistan close behind in fourth with 29. It all fell apart for Kyrgyzstan in round two however when they had to add another 40 faults to bring their final tally to 60, sending them plummeting from first to last place.
Meanwhile the Kazakhs improved with just 20 to add this time out after both pathfinder Peter Solovyov (Luzie) and second-line rider Asset Tolkumbekov (Aronia), returned with eight faults apiece while anchorman Alexander Tishkov left just one on the floor with Quattro. Oleg Popelyaev's performance with the French-bred It's Me du Mesnil deteriorated dramatically as this combination, who returned with just five faults first time out, picked up a hefty 25 at their second attempt to provide the discard score.
None of that mattered however when things didn't quite go to plan for the Russians either despite an opening second-round clear, the only fault-free run of the day, from pathfinders Olga Giss and Gledis. They looked like overtaking the Kazakhs when Karin Ruslan and Eliza followed with an eight-fault effort, but 12 from Juliya Seredova and Irbit and a further 17 from Sergey Shepelin and Cambridge ensured that they too must add a further 20 to their scoreline, leaving them just three faults short of the Kazakhs and in silver medal position.
Uzbekistan's Feruz Abdulayev (Dorango), Umit Kamilov (Eloise), Vladimir Shmelyov (Lou Leveret) and Gairat Nazarov (Quattro Junior) claimed the bronze, with particularly creditable performances from Kamilov who improved from an eight-fault first-round total to lower just one fence second time out, and Gairat who picked up just a single time fault in round two.
Kazakhstan's Magzhaev and Privat headed up the AEF President's Cup 135m class on the final day when coming out best in a two-way showdown with Kyrgyzstan's Renat Galimov and Arman who faulted once in a slower time while Magzhaev jumped fast, clean and clear to take the honours.
The individual medals were decided in the Grand Prix, which was also an FEI World Cup™ Jumping qualifier for the region, and therefore strongly contested.
Just 12 lined out over the considerably bigger 140m-160m course, and there were two first-round eliminations including that of 2011 FEI Central Asia individual gold medallist Peter Soloyov. There were no clears in round one, but when both Uzbekistan's Kamilov and Ukraine's Konstantin Iaroshenko finished with eight faults each they went through to a second-round jump-off against the clock, with Uzbekistan's Okil Sabirzhnov already assured of the bronze after posting the fastest 12-fault total with Tayson.
Despite picking up another seven faults, Kamilov won through to take the gold when Iaroshenko returned with 13 more to add to his scoreline. It was an impressive conclusion to the Championships from an Uzbeki perspective, as they claimed individual gold and bronze while Vladimir Shmelyov finished just outside the medals in fourth place.
Alongside all the action and excitement in the arena, the Equestrian Federation of Kazakhstan staged two FEI training courses, for Endurance Level 1 national judges and FEI veterinarians. Mr Hallvard Sommerseth from Norway was the main speaker on the topic of Endurance while both FEI 1st Vice-President and Chair of the FEI Veterinary Committee, Mr John McEwen, and Director of the FEI Veterinary Department, Graeme Cooke, addressed the veterinary delegates from Asian countries.
During the course of discussions on veterinary matters, the Kazakhstan Ministry of Agriculture, and the Chief Veterinary Officer of Kazakhstan, expressed the desire to improve the practicality of government requirements for the movement for international competition horses and for them to lead the way in this regard for other countries in the Central Asia region. This could include the establishment of disease-free zones for competition horses.
FEI Central Asia Jumping Team Championship: GOLD - Kazakhstan 45 faults: Luzie (Peter Solovyov) 12/8, Aronia (Asset Tolkumbekov) 12/8, It's Me du Mesnil (Oleg Popelyaev) 5/25, Quattro (Alexander Tishkov) 8/1; SILVER - Russia 48 faults: Gledis (Olga Giss) 8/0, Eliza (Karen Ruslin) 16/8, Irbit (Juliya Seredova) 16/17, Cambridge (Sergey Shepelin) 4/17; BRONZE - Uzbekistan 50 faults: Dorango (Feruz (Abdeulayev) 26/29, Eloise (Umit Kamilov) 8/1, Lou Leveret (Vladimir Shmelyov) 12/16, Quattro Junior (Gairat Nazarov) 9/1.
FEI Central Asia Jumping Individual Championship: GOLD - Eloise (Umit Kamilov) UZB; SILVER - Liebestraum (Konstantin Iaroshenko) UKR; BRONZE - Tayson (Okil Sabirzhanov) UZB.
Press release from FEI/by Louise Parkes
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