YURKEVICH, BUIKEVICH DOUBLE GOLD FOR KAZAKHSTAN AT CENTRAL ASIAN CHAMPS

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by LOUISE PARKES

The host nation of Kazakhstan clinched gold in both the Intermediate 1 and Freestyle Intermediate 1 at the FEI Central Asian Dressage Championships staged in Almaty last weekend. In the battle between two seasoned riders during which good fortune swung in both directions, Sergey Buikevich claimed the Intermediate 1 title with Ispovednik while Natalyja Yurkevich took the Freestyle with Don Petro.

It was a particularly satisfying result for the versatile and multiple medal-winning Buikevich, who is vice president and secretary general of the Equestrian Federation of Kazakhstan, head coach of the National Equestrian Team, a bureau member of the International Equestrian Federation and chairman of FEI Group III as well as an International jumping judge.

The event took place in Almaty which is the former capital, and the largest city, in Kazakhstan. Located on the Silk Road –the legendary network of trade routes that stretch across Asia linking East to West–the city remains a major center of commerce and a meeting place for visitors from around the world.

In 2009 these Championships were pitched at CDI3* Grand Prix level, but this time around the standard was lowered and the competitions included a preliminary Prix St Georges.

Judges Lyudmila Gleb, Peter Engel and Elena Kutserubova put Buikevich atop the 19-strong field that included representatives from neighbouring Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The score of 65.658 per cent was almost 0.4 per cent ahead of Yurkevich while fellow-Kazakh, Kseniya Dubovtseva, slotted into third with Darial ahead of Yurkevich again in fourth, this time partnering Atlantis. First of the visitors into the line-up was Elena Chistyakova with Sekret who, however, was more than 5.5 per cent behind the winning score when claiming fifth place.

In Saturday’s Intermediate, the 17 combinations–nine from Kazakhstan, and four each from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan–were permitted two rides. Buikevich and Ispovednik scored 66.140 per cent for gold, but Yurkevich claimed both silver and bronze with Don Petro on 65.833 per cent and Atlantis with 63.114 per cent.

Yurkevich and Don Petro were clear victors with a score of 68.000 per cent in Sunday’s Freestyle, when the 43-year-old rider from the Interprayz Sports Club who won the National Young Horse Championship and was second on the Kazakhstan National Rankings list in 2010. Yurkevich’s career record includes second in the Grand Prix Freestyle and Grand Prix Special at the 2007 Central Asia Dressage Championships, a win in the Grand Prix and second in the Freestyle at the CDI3* in 2008, plus victory in the Grand Prix and second in the Grand Prix Special in 2009.

Buikevich, who represented Kazakhstan at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Aachen in 2006 and who swept to victory with his previous ride, Volan, in both the Grand Prix Special and Freestyle at the Central Asia Championships in 2007 and again in 2009, showed the depth of his experience as he steered Ispovednik to a score of 67.958 per cent for silver.  Buikevich also took team and individual gold at these championships in 2003 and 2005, but this time around there was no team event. Uzbekistan’s Elena Chistyakova and Sekret took bronze with a mark of 63.500 per cent.