A massed start of 159 endurance riders from 42 countries got the World Equestrian Games off to a spectacular start at 6am yesterday.
But there was a long 160 kilometres and some drenching rain ahead before Spain's Miguel Vila Ubach cantered into the main arena at Aachen on the sodden grey Hungares and Spain claimed their first endurance gold medal.
Yesterday's route took riders through three countries - Belgium and the Netherlands as well as Germany. It took more than 12 hours for the Spaniard to finish and some of his opponents spent much longer in the saddle.
The World Games cover seven disciplines - the Olympic contests of eventing, dressage and show jumping, plus endurance riding, four-in-hand carriage driving, vaulting and reining.
The two days of dressage that will decide the team results begin this morning, with Britain hoping that they can squeeze into the medals and so gain the Olympic qualification that goes to the top three finishers.
By contrast the British event riders, who begin their four days of competition on Thursday, are seriously going for gold. Olympic qualification goes to the top five teams in eventing and in the show jumping, which takes pride of place next week.Reuse content