On Saturday August 13, 2016 Šamorín and its surroundings played a host to another important Endurance class event. Organizers at the sports complex x-bionic® sphere and JK Napoli prepared international meeting CEI3* SPIRIT SUMMER RACE 2016, being all the more important, as it was the test run ahead of the September World Cup. Given the short notice for preparation, only three months, it was a test, especially for the organizers.
At 6 a.m. along with the rising sun, a trio of riders set off on a track of the main competition CEI3* over a distance of 160 km. In an air infused with water drops, competitors were ushered in by a rainbow, an ideal weather for endurance competition. Temperature was 13 degrees, accompanied by gentle breeze and very light drizzle. Trio of riders, German number one Nicola Trenc riding Is Enyd 2, Czech representative Tereza Kopecká on gelding Siva had number two and a Bahraini rider Abdulrahman Mohammed Alzayed riding stallion Debiut with number three. The 1st loop measured 40 km and with the exception of a few sections when the group stretched out for a while, they still rode together. Although shortly before the finish line, the Arabian rider took the lead with several houndred meters ahead of Teresa Kopecká instead she was nearly half a kilometre ahead of the German competitor. They crossed the finishing line almost simultaneously within five seconds of each other. Abdulrahman Mohammed Alzayed needed the shortest time to enter the veterinary check, the German rider took 23 seconds more and the Czech entry required one minute longer. The race speed was not high, only 15.080 km/h. In the 2nd loop (35 km) the provisional race leader Abdulrahman Mohammed Alzayed added some pace and with a speed of 17.740 km/h he pulled away from the pair of ladies behind him. Faster of the two was Tereza Kopecká 16.090 km/h and at the start of the 3rd, also 35 kilometres loop, she built a two-minute lead over Nicola Trenc. By that time the weather was turning uncomfortably hot. The sun was burning and the temperature was climbing towards 30 degrees. Abdulrahman Mohammed Alzayed maintained a pace above 17 km/h, Tereza Kopecká also accelerated slightly to 16.790 km/h, losing contact with the German rider. After 110 kilometres, the Bahraini rider was leading the race by nearly 18 minutes ahead of the Czech rider. The German was further 14 minutes behind. The order of riders in the 4th round did not change, but under the baking sun, all slowed down and the gaps increased further – the difference between the riders in first and second place grew to almost 40 minutes and the reexam for veterinary inspection of the Czech horse reduced the loss of the German duo from the original 22 minutes to approximately 16:30 minutes. This was however all from both of these riders in this competition. After a mandatory veterinary check of their horses before the start of the last loop (the so-called re-exam), the competition ended prematurely for both of them. The winner of the race was Abdulrahman Mohammed Alzayed riding Debiut with a final speed of 16.582 km/h, collecting prize money of 3,000 EUR, the Winner’s cup, as well the best condition award.
The second most important competition, with a slightly higher number of competitors, was the CEI2* race over 120 km. The starting field of five riders comprised Andrea Kopecká (CZE), Fahad Helal Mohamed Al Khatri (BRN), Martin Rey (GER), Gerhard Lackner (AUT) and Jia Huilin (CHN). They set-off on their course at 6:30 am and to begin with, they completed a 40 km circuit. The Bahraini rider, leaving nothing to chance, started from the very beginning at a relatively brisk pace (17.540 km/h) and built a lead of about 20 minutes ahead of his pursuers. Second placed was China’s representative (15.490 km/h). The remaining trio proceeded along with approximately four minutes behind the Chinese. In the second loop (30 km) Fahad Helal Mohamed Al Khatri raised his speed yet again (18.000 km/h), approaching the finishing line in Šamorín ahead of the riders from the 160 km competition. In 2nd place, losing almost 27 minutes, was still Jia Huilin. After the second loop Andrea Kopecká retired from the competition and 3rd at the start of the penultimate loop was Gerhard Lackner, losing 12 minutes on the Chinese rider. The German rider in the fourth place was lagging at this time 17 minutes behind the Austrian. The last two loops of 30 and 20 km did not change the order of the race either, so after nearly seven hours of riding the competition winner was Bahraini rider Fahad Helal Mohamed Al Khatri on Anglo-Arabian gelding Cherko with a speed of 17.523 km/h. Second place went to the Chinese rider with Czech mare Sahar with a speed of 15.230 km/h and losing 49min 21sec on the winner.
In junior competition CEIYJ2* 120 km competed only a pair of girls from Estonia. They completed the entire course of the race together and are distinguished only in the home stretch only in the home stretch of the Šamorín racecourse. The race winner was Kaisa Keero riding Nelly (15.327 km/h), finishing three seconds ahead of Brenda Prants riding Assman.
Race CEI* 80 km had the highest number of entries. Out of the ten registered riders, the race started at 8:00, only with nine horses. Among them also a quartet from JK Napoli: Mario Hoffmann with horse Novisaad D’Aqui, Petra Hubačová with Ocazo, fresh Slovak champion crowned only a week ago Michaela Supeková with seasoned Balkan and Simona Zelmanová with Tom Jones FT. From the start a five-member group formed at the head of the race, comprising Megane Grosjean (FRA), Jana Švarcová (CZE), Mario Hoffmann, Peter Hubačová and Simona Zelmanová. This whole group finished their first loop at almost the same time and the race order was decided by how fast the horses entered the veterinary control. Fastest was Mario Hoffmann (only 54 seconds, speed of 19.330 km/h) and he set off in the second loop, of same length as the first – 30 km, in the first position. Already the first loop of the competition recorded a retirement by Frenchman Romain Laporte with horse Samahi B, owned by Rasťo Supek. Since Michael Supeková was riding together with this pair, problems on the track and subsequent retirement of the French rider left their mark on her time and standings after the first loop (8th place, 15.460 km/h). In the 2nd second loop, Simona Zelmanová was the early retirement from the five-member group at the head of the race. The remaining four riders arrived again almost simultaneously, but at the veterinary control Megane Grosjean oforFrance lost four minutes. Michaela Supeková with Balkan finished the 2nd loop in the best time (18.210 km/h) and moved from 8th to 5th position. The final loop (20 km) was attacked by a trio comprising Hoffmann-Hubačová-Švarcová. The final dash was won by the young Czech rider Jana Švarcová on mare Salma Hayek (loop 23.520 km/h, with the resulting average speed of 19.563 km/h), beating Mario Hoffmann by a single second. Petra Hubačová finished 3rd, 34 seconds behind. Originally 4th in the finish, Megane Grosjean was disqualified during the final veterinary inspection due to limping horse and Michaela Supeková moved to the place just behind the podium finish. The list of finishing riders was completed by Czech riders Veronika Hrubá and Lucie Škábová in the 5th and 6th place respectively.
Despite the lower number of participating riders and horses, the meeting fulfilled its objective, namely to test the organizers before the peak of the season. Throughout the event all proceedings were under a close watch by FEI representatives and the main sponsor – The Longines company.