Butheeb in the UAE replaced Verona as host of the FEI Endurance World Championships ©Christophe Tanière/FEI

The delayed International Equestrian Federation (FEI) Endurance World Championships is set to begin tomorrow in Butheeb in the United Arab Emirates, with athletes from 37 countries contending for the individual and team titles.

The Championships was moved from Verona in Italy because of concerns over the readiness of the track, and delayed from October 2022 to February 2023 when it was moved to the Butheeb International Endurance Village in the United Arab Emirates.

A total of 129 riders are set to compete in the biennial Championships, which was last held in Pisa in 2021.

Twenty-four of the 37 countries are expected to enter the team event.

Spain are the defending champions of the team event, while Salem Hamad Saeed Malhoof Al Kitby of the UAE was the individual winner two years ago.

He is set to defend his title at his home World Championships.

A fourth consecutive team gold for Spain would set a record at the Endurance World Championships.

France have the best historical record at the Endurance World Championships with 12 team and 11 individual titles, while riders from the United States and UAE have triumphed 12 times in the individual competition.

FEI President Ingmar De Vos said Butheeb would be a
FEI President Ingmar De Vos said Butheeb would be a "fantastic backdrop for our sport" ©Getty Images

However, it is Spain and the UAE who have dominated recent editions since 2006.

Competition is due to begin tomorrow and finish on Sunday (February 26).

FEI president Ingmar De Vos, who is an International Olympic Committee member, is looking forward to the start of the World Championships.

"We are excited to see so many athletes and nations confirmed for this important Championship," the Belgian official said.

"Sustainable thinking is absolutely key to event planning today, and I am delighted the World Championship in Butheeb has set its sights on becoming a point of reference for environmental sustainability at endurance rides in the future.

"Thanks to the concerted efforts of the Organising Committee in Butheeb and the UAE Equestrian National Federation, we will have a fantastic backdrop for our sport with all the necessary infrastructures and requirements to ensure our athletes and our horses can perform at their very best, with safety and welfare a priority throughout."