Last week marked an exciting milestone for Equestrian sport in The Bahamas, as 17-year-old Reine Pagliaro’s successful ride in the FEI World Endurance Championship for Young Riders and Juniors marked the first time ever that The Bahamas has competed in an Equestrian event at the World Championship level.
74 riders from 20 countries vied for top honours over a technically demanding 120km course which took riders through open fields, wooded sections, and hilly terrain in Ermelo, the Netherlands. The course was so demanding that over 45% of the competitors failed to finish. However, Pagliaro rode a strategic and determined race in partnership with her horse, the 11-year old grey Arabian gelding Beautiful Knightmare (affectionately known as Beau). The pair finished the course in 38th place, clocking a final time of 8:09:35 at an average speed of 14.706 km/hr.
Saeed Salem Almuhairi of the United Arab Emirates was the individual first place winner, followed by his teammate Abdulla Ali Alamri. Rut Badia Marfa of Spain finished in the bronze position The young athletes from France won the Team gold, Team Malaysia won the silver behind France, and Belgium earned the Team bronze.
Endurance, one of the fastest-growing equestrian sports, is best described as a marathon on horseback. Strategy, fitness, and a keen understanding of horse welfare are necessary for success over varying terrain and environmental conditions. A Junior World Championship level course is 120 km long, comprised of four loops of varying lengths with a mandatory veterinary checkpoint at the end of each loop. “Welfare of the horse is paramount,” explained Mr. Eric Lamsma, organizer of the event.
So when Pagliaro crossed the finish line after over eight hours of riding, her first thought was for her horse. The priority was to ensure that his hydration and metabolic levels were good and that he was not injured or lame in any way. Once the final vet check had been cleared, it was official, and the Bahamas flag was on the board at the FEI Junior World Championships!
“The feeling is absolutely indescribable,” exclaimed a jubilant Pagliaro, acknowledging that her World Championship performance was the culmination of “years of hopes, dreams and ambitions”. She was quick to praise her equine partner, calling him her “true champion”. “No matter what the day brought, he went the extra mile and gave the extra push,” she said. “For this, I am truly thankful.”
Pagliaro was also full of praise for her support team: her coach, Mary Kathryn Clark; the team veterinarian, Dr. Carter Hounsel, DVM; the ground team who met her and Beau at each stop with water jugs, hugs and support, and above all the Chef d’ Equipe, Peggy Clark, whom she called “the backbone and brains behind the whole experience.”
Trainer Mary Kathryn Clark was equally as ebullient at the finish, heaping praise on Reine, on Beau, and the entire team. “Today was a day of many firsts…first world championships for this talented rider, first world championships for her trusted mount, first world championships for an amazing federation back in The Bahamas…I’m honored to have been part of such an amazing and fun team.”
Despite the time difference with the Netherlands, Federation officials back at home watched the leaderboard intently as the race progressed, cheering when Reine finally crossed the finish line. “We are tremendously proud of Reine and Beau,” said Equestrian Federation President Cathy Ramsingh-Pierre. “Their performance has brought the international presence of Bahamas Equestrian to a whole new level. We congratulate Mary Kathryn and Peggy Clark on the expert training and superb conditioning regimen that allowed Reine and Beau to successfully finish a course that defeated so many other worthy competitors. We extend our thanks to Dr. Hounsel and the entire ground team for their support. This is a wonderful way to begin a new season!”
Equestrian competition has been on hiatus since March 2020 locally due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Plans for the new show season are underway, with the first show scheduled to take place in October.
Bahamian show jumper Marcus Davis wrapped up an intense June campaign of training and competition in the best way possible – standing alone atop the podium, at the Angelstone Headwaters Cup Tournament in Ontario, Canada!
Davis and his mount, El Porvenir Corro, started strong and improved with each outing over the four-day tournament. In the 1.15m Open Jumper Speed class Davis and Corro finished just in the ribbons, placing 8th out of a field of 54. As the fences rose in height the pair got stronger, riding a clear first round and a fast jump off with just one fence down to finish 4th overall in the 1.30m/1.40m Junior/Amateur Jumper. Davis entered the final leg of the competition – the $1,000 1.30m Jumper Classic – with one goal in mind: to win!
Davis and Corro negotiated the technically demanding Classic course with speed and style, slicing turns in the jump off to go clear in a fast time of just 37.199 seconds. The ride was a personal best for Davis, his first win of a 1.30 Classic!
The entire weekend was a triumph, as not only did Davis win the $1,000 1.30m Jumper Classic, he and El Porvenir Corro finished as overall Division Champions at Angelstone, Canada’s fastest-growing Equestrian Show Jumping Tournament venue.
Davis will continue competing this summer in Canada as they progress toward their goal of representing The Bahamas in Santiago, Chile, at the next Pan Am Games.
Equestrian athlete Millie Vlasov and Etos HBC shone in illustrious company at the Laiterie de Montaigu 1.40m Grand Prix Event at Bourg-en-Bresse, France, on Sunday, May 23. Vlasov placed 5th out of a field of 52 Grand Prix riders, which included competitors from Sweden, Ireland, Great Britain, Turkey, Spain, Mexico, Switzerland, Australia and France.
Vlasov took the lead in the competition early, attacking the challenging 1.40m course designed by French course designer Gregory Bodo with style and verve. She and Etos soared clear in the first round and posted an efficient jump off time of 43.53 seconds, making her the rider to beat and prompting the French announcer to declare the pair “superb!”
Ultimately the performance was strong enough to secure 5th place in the large field, with just 4 riders, including Brice Brassart (France) and Charlotte Mcauley (Sweden) able to beat Vlasov’s and Etos’ fast time. Vlasov was delighted and gave all the credit to Etos, declaring: “I’m so happy! He was amazing”.
The high placement at the Bourg-en-Bresse competition at 1.40m marked the pair’s highest achievement to date as they progress toward their goal of representing The Bahamas in Santiago, Chile, at the next Pan Am Games.
The FEI Endurance Young Rider World Championships are rapidly approaching. As the first ever to represent The Bahamas at this event, Reine Pagliaro and her mount Beautiful Knightmare (known as Beau) are training, refining, and doing all the research necessary to represent The Bahamas to the best of their ability. The competition will be held September 6-10 in Ermelo, The Netherlands.
To put it simply, Endurance is a cross-country marathon on horseback. An FEI 2* event, the Young Rider World Championships distance is 75 miles (120 km). The qualification process has been grueling: first Pagliaro and Beau had to complete a certain number of qualifying races before moving up to the International, or FEI, level. After achieving FEI status, the pair then had to finish two 120 km races which was accomplished in March 2020.
Reine rides with the Stiyu Endurance Team at Muscogee Farms in Eatonton, Georgia. The Stiyu research team has been scouting competition venues with weather and footing similar to that of The Netherlands. Luckily, the weather in middle Georgia where the pair train is almost identical to the weather in Ermelo. To ride a course with footing similar to the Worlds course, Reine and Beau headed off for the Broxton Bridge Plantation Endurance Races in South Carolina, held January 29-30, 2021.
“Endurance isn’t just running as fast as you want to,” explains Peggy Clark, owner and manager of Muscogee Farms. “That leads to injury, mental fatigue, and physical problems. Endurance racers know that you increase speed, or distance, not both. Reine and Beau have achieved the distance element many times. Now they are working on increasing the speed element.”
This was the plan at Broxton Bridge. Along with Mary Kathryn Clark, her trainer and Beau’s owner, Reine left the start line for the first loop of 15 miles (24 km) at a crisp pace. They were back at the first checkpoint in 90 minutes…a pace of 16 kph/10mph, perfectly on plan. After a thorough veterinary exam and a mandatory rest period – all regular procedures in Endurance races to ensure horse welfare – the riders were back on the trail for the last segment of their race, 16km/10 miles. It was time to kick up the speed a notch, and Reine and Beau finished the last loop in 44 minutes at a pace just over 12 mph. The pair tied for second place.
Not content with the great performance at Broxton Bridge, Reine is continuing to train every weekend with Beau, overcoming the elements as for the past weeks Georgia has been inundated with wave after wave of near-freezing rain!
There was no brushing off the rust for equestrian athlete Millie Vlasov as she began the 2021 show season with a successful weekend of showing at the Oliva Nova Mediterranean Equestrian Tour in Valencia, Spain.
Vlasov competed in the Oliva Met Bronze Tour at the CSI 1* level with two of her horses, Gulliver du Chȇne and Etos HBC.
Vlasov was pleased with the performance of both horses. Gulliver, whom she affectionately calls her “pocket rocket” because of his small size and fast speed, completed clear rounds all weekend and was just out of the ribbons in the 1.30m class, finishing 13th out of 34 competitors. Competing at an even higher level with Etos HBC, Vlasov was thrilled go double clear over a 1.40m course, completing her jump off in a time of 37.78 seconds. “He was so good. I’m so happy!”, said Vlasov.
As a result of the pair’s strong performance, this coming week Vlasov will aim to ride Etos HBC over more challenging courses at Oliva, possibly competing at the 1.45m level in a CSI2* Grand Prix Silver Tour competition.
CONGRATULATIONS!!!! to Peyton Wong, voted one of The Nassau Guardian’s Top 10 Junior Female Athletes of the Year.
CONGRATULATIONS!!!! to Mila Sands, who finished out of the top 10 but received votes for special mention.
And finally, CONGRATULATIONS!!!! to Millie Vlasov, The Nassau Guardian’s 2nd-ranked Senior Female Athlete of the Year. Millie was edged out of the top spot by only 1 vote!
Equestrian Bahamas is proud to announce that Millie Vlasov has made the list of Finalists for the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture 2020 Sports Champion Award!
Bahamians all over the world thrilled to hear our National Anthem playing for the first time ever in an international equestrian arena, after Millie’s CSI 1* win aboard Beaumont M/V at St. Tropez earlier this year.
The nomination for the 2020 Sports Champion Award is a tremendous honour not only for Millie but also for Equestrian Sport in the The Bahamas. Please show your support for Millie and for Equestrian by casting your vote today!
- Go to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture Facebook Page
- Click on Photos
- Scroll through to find Millie’s photo
- Like the photo …. share the news!