By US Equestrian Communications Department
U.S. endurance athlete Avery Betz-Conway (Kingsland, Ga.) and RAS Istanbul, a 2011 Arabian gelding owned by Estanar S. A., completed the 2023 FEI Endurance World Championship for Young Riders and Juniors in Castelsagrat, France, on Saturday, September 2, finishing in 18th place out of a field of 70 starters and 37 finishers. The pair finished the 120 km ride in a time of 9:39:27.
“It was a very technical ride, but it was a lot of fun,” said Betz-Conway. “The beginning was a bit stressful because there were a lot more horses than we’re used to, but it was really good. I started in a really big group and we split off. The group that I split off with ended up becoming great friends, some that I had known before and some I made today. It was really great to ride and chat with people I enjoyed.”
Avery Betz-Conway and Istanbul. © Claire Sapet
Betz-Conway cited spending time with “Istanbul” and enjoying the course at Castelsagrat as highlights of her experience at the championship. She thanked her crew and Istanbul’s trainers and owners for supporting her in the preparation leading up to and during the competition.
“Istanbul was great,” she said. “He got stronger as the day went on, and I’m really proud of him. He did amazing. I had a goal of completing in the top 20, and I’m very proud to have completed top 20.”
The other American combination in the field at this year’s championship, Meghan Wert and Gilted Gold, were unfortunately pulled following the third loop of the four-loop race. In her second World Championship, Wert rode Valerie Kanavy’s 2015 Anglo-Arabian mare, Gilted Gold. Wert thanked her family, crew and owner for the experience of competing at this World Championship and is looking forward to future successes in competition.
Meghan Wert and Gilted Gold. © Claire Sapet
“I am delighted that the U.S. team not only created unique pathways to the World Championship—one through a U.S.-based path and another through a partnership with a championship French endurance facility—but also continues to create amazing experiences for those who support our endurance athletes,” said Chef d’Equipe Lisanne Dorion. “There is certainly a wave for endurance building in the global equestrian scene and the U.S. has every right to earn our way onto the international stage. Meghan Wert and her mare Gilly showed us we can take home grown talent and succeed. Avery Betz-Conway showed us we can partner and learn from true leaders in our sport. I am grateful for each athlete and their route to the worlds. Every U.S. equestrian can celebrate the leadership and teamwork the riders, families and greater endurance community bring to the world stage.”
The winning combination was Rashed Ahmad Seghayer Alktebi (UAE) with Eddy de Montrozier, a 2014 gelding owned by M7 Endurance Stables. The Best Condition award went to Ema Chazel (FRA) and Cookie Hipolyte, a 2012 Arabian mare owned by the rider and Stephane Chazel.