Nearly one hundred horses at the start line, competitions on a good, or perhaps even European level, perfectly marked routes, very efficient judging – all this made the Polish Championships, combined with the international event in Endurance Racing which took place during the last weekend (3rd-5th of September) at Kuźnia Nowowiejska, set new standards for Polish endurance meetings.
Already the prognosis were promising: 98 horses entered, including 28 from abroad, an international, or rather world-class judging and veterinary panel, as well as a new system of transponders calculating the results, boded an event that had not yet been seen by the Vistula River. The only problem was the weather, as it had been raining for several days, but apparently even the heavens favor endurance horses, because during the competitions on both Friday and Saturday the sun was shining brightly.
The contestants and their horses showed up at Kuźnia already on Thursday in order to have their mounts go through the mandatory vet inspection. Friday was a day of shorter contests, ranked up to one star inclusive, while Saturday was to hold a two star international race over a distance of 120 km and an international three star race over 160 km combined with the Polish Senior Championships.
Friday morning welcomed the riders with relentless – or as they say on the borderlands – bloody cold wind, but luckily the sun soon came out from behind the clouds. In the L class contest over 30 km two horses achieved an identical score of 23,75 and, using racing terminology, won in dead-heat: Fax with rider Alan Ptach and the mare Wiązka, who for a change was ridden by Ryszard Ptach. Both contestants represented Kuźnia Nowowiejska.
In the P class over 50 km 14 horses lined up at the start. The race was won in great style by Agnieszka Romszycka atop the gelding Orsk (Włodarz – Orieta/Fawor), bred by Damis BT. This pair gained 53,52 points, which is nearly the highest possible score to be achieved in this class. It is worth mentioning that second placed Katarzyna Kowalczyk atop the Arabian gelding Edinet (Włodarz – Ellila/Wachlarz), also bred by Damis BT, with only a slightly lower score of 53,44.
In the longest national contest with a time limit CEN – N over 80 km victorious proved the 6 year old stallion Wened (Espadero – Włócznia/Borek), bred by Adam Sobczuk and ridden by the author of this coverage. Second placed the Janów-bred El Vis (Visbaden – Etnografia/Aloes) and third – Amin (Ganges – Amina/Murat Gazon) bred by Zbigniew Górski.
Truly exciting thrills were delivered that day in the international one star race over 80 km. In the lead over the entire distance was Ryszard Zieliński atop the Arabian mare Gandawa (Eldon – Gryzetka/Wojsław), bred by Michałów Stud. Literally just before the finish line he was caught up by the Estonian contestant Kikas Marian atop the half-bred Oopus. The battle for victory lasted until the final meters or even centimeters, as Gandawa lost by one second. The race was led at a terrific pace, where the average of the victorious pair was over 21 km/h. It must be mentioned that the final lap was completed by the Estonian at a pace of 27 km/h.
Saturday was the day when the best horses lined up at the start, competing over distances of 120 and 160 km. The first of them, the international CEI** 120 km event, was easily won by Beata Dzikowska atop the mare Mari (Murat Nur – Mu-Farah/Algomej), bred by Zbigniew Górski. Right behind her came Ola Ciesielska atop the Michałów-bred gelding Ersted (Gazal Al Shaqab – Empiryka/Monogramm). Both contestants, representatives of Champion Equestrian Club, tackled the distance at an impressive pace of 18,4 km/h.
The contest over the longest distance of 160 km gathered as much as 13 horses at the start line, which up to now was a pure abstraction in the reality of Polish endurance races. Within this group 4 contestants also took part in the Polish Senior Championships. This race also did not lack emotions, keeping up the suspense until the very end. At first very strict game rules were dictated by Sebastian Karaśkiewicz atop the stallion Grant (Entyk – Greczynka/Etogram), bred by the no longer existing Kurozwęki Stud. This pair kept up a high pace of over 17 km/h over three laps, leading both in the national and international contest. Unfortunately after the 100th km Grant became lame and Sebastian out of concern for the horse’s health withdrew him from the competition. After this the lead was taken over by Marcin Tobiasz atop the veteran of Polish endurance races, the gelding Ester (Wermut – Eskadra/Algomej). This pair was in the lead up until the 140th km, pressed more and more by Maciej Kacprzyk riding the half-bred gelding named Ferro. Prior to heading out for the final lap Ester did not pass the vet re-inspection and was eliminated due to movement. Because Sahiba, ridden by Dorota Krzywicka, also dropped out, Maciej Kacprzyk was the only one left for the battle of Polish Senior Champion. Ferro had no problems with tackling the finals 20 km and breezed the final vet box inspection. The pace of our pair was decent, over 15 km/h, and for Maciej Kacprzyk, who faced this “killer” distance of 160 km for the first time ever, this was definitely the greatest success in his career. The international CEI*** 160 km race was won by a representative of Germany, the experienced Belinda Hitzler atop the French Arabian Nabab La Majorie.
If I was to try and recapitulate the event I should emphasize that the laps were remarkably well marked, which almost totally eliminated the chance of getting lost on the route and allowed the riders to focus on their performance. The system of chips and transponders, used in Poland for the first time ever, worked great and the results, the times of entering the gates, the times of individual horses and paces were available at once. In practice every horse had a transmitter on him and when walking through a gate – like in a supermarket – he provided the system with information which was immediately processed. To be honest it would now be hard to imagine an event where everything would be counted by hand.
%alttext%Greatly pleasing is the attendance of the event, as this year’s record from Stare Żukowice (around 70 horses) was bested by one third. The contestants “generated” very good average paces – in short, up to now races were not ridden at such speed in Poland. A pace of 21 km/h in the one star event and 18,5 km/h over 120 km are very decent European results. When it comes to the horses themselves I think we can risk an opinion that the ones dominating in endurance represent the good old Polish performance lines and pedigrees, which are no longer present in the so-called elite breeding. Luckily they found shelter at the stables of the private breeders. Probably that’s why the domination of private breeding when it comes to endurance is so indisputable. It was definitely clear at Kuźnia: all Polish Arabians which won their distances originate from private breedings. I’m willing to place a bet that next year we will see at least 150 horses on the picturesque routes of the Bolimów forest!