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Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad with the national riders who will be competing in the FEI World Endurance Championships for Young Riders and Juniors in Italy.

A TOP-FIVE target has been set for the national riders for the FEI World Endurance Championships for Young Riders and Juniors, which starts on Wednesday, in Italy.

The team, comprising Faris Haikal Hassan Sa'ari, Aimin Azfar Nazulki, Nur Qasrina Amani Zakaria and Yusuf Luqman Zakaria, left for Under-21 competition in San Rossore, Italy, yesterday.

Team manager Mohamad Din Mat said if all goes smoothly a top-five finish in the team category will be achievable.

“The race will be split into four phases, and there will be a veterinary inspection after each phase.

“The first inspection will be done after 40km. The second (inspection) is after the next 33km, the third after another 27km and the final inspection at the end of the race,” said Mohamad yesterday.

“During the inspections, the horses’ physical condition will be examined. Horses need to pass each inspection to complete the race.

“It is thus important for our riders to know when they can push their horses during the race. Otherwise, they may risk being eliminated.

“We will be using the same horses as we did in France recently and they should arrive in San Rossore today (yesterday) from France.

“For the team event, our goal is to finish top five, which will not be easy but at the same time is not impossible.

“The timing of the top three riders in the team will be used to calculate the rankings.”

A total of 107 riders from 35 nations will be competing at the world meet.

The national junior squad received a morale boost when they received the Jalur Gemilang from Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad during a flag-handing ceremony in Seri Kembangan on Saturday.

“I think it was quite an inspirational moment for our riders to meet the Prime Minister and his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali who also gave them words of encouragement ahead of the competition,” added Mohamad.

Dr Mahathir, who is an equestrian enthusiast and Dr Siti Hasmah spent almost an hour with the riders.

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