Endurance — the horse world's version of a marathon — gets a day, and perhaps some of the night, in the spotlight Sunday at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
The 100-mile race through the Kentucky Horse Park and 24 surrounding private properties will begin at 7 a.m. Although the winner is expected to arrive at 3:30 p.m., give or take a half-hour, others are expected to be on the course until well after dark. The cutoff time to complete the course is 11:08 p.m., requiring an average speed of 8.2 mph.
Two years ago at Terengganu, Malaysia, Maria Alvarez Ponton of Spain won in 8 hours, 48 minutes, 6 seconds on her French-bred gelding Nobby.
The trail for Sunday's race consists of six loops, originating from the Horse Park "vet check" area. Upon completion of each loop, as well as at the conclusion of the race, horses are checked for fitness and ability to continue.
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The clock continues to run during the vet check, so a fit horse that is able to recover quickly is a distinct advantage.
Less than half of the 162 nominated entrants are likely to complete the event.
The Kentucky course is described as 80 percent grass trails and pastures, 3 miles of paved road segments, 2 miles of gravel roads and some dirt trails. There will be 18 road crossings and 15 water crossings.
The 24 private properties being used are not open to the public, nor is there parking allowed at the road crossings. The place to watch the race will be at the Horse Park, most prominently in the vet check area.