Leading one hundred and thirty-three riders and horses from the gates of the spectacular Wadi Rum desert to the mythical Nabataean lost city of Petra is the crazy and daring bet that Bady Kebir, Benoît Perrier, and their Gallops of Jordan team have just accomplished. Two hundred kilometers on horseback in the desert, eighteen nations represented among the participating riders, more than one hundred and sixty horses, a team of twenty people from France (management, doctors, veterinarians, endurance technicians, media) and with eighty Jordanians recruited locally for supervising and supporting the race. An extraordinary amount of a preparation went into making the Gallops of Jordan an incredible success!
After the Gallops of Oman, Morocco, and India, Bady Kebir and Benoît Perrier have succeeded in their fourth challenge to amaze riders from various horizons with breathtaking desert landscapes. A project which has been in the works since 2019 but postponed from 2020 to 2021 because of Covid. The objective of the Gallops is to discover spectacular sites through an endurance and orienteering race where the well-being of the horses is the absolute priority. Every Gallops edition carefully selects horses locally and their well-being is monitored constantly and extensively throughout the race.
With Absolute Respect of the Horses
Her Royal Highness Princess Alia bint Al Hussein of Jordan, President of the Royal Jordanian Equestrian Federation, who was immediately won over by the Gallops project, opened the doors to her equestrian clubs. “We had visited practically every equestrian site in Jordan – a good fifteen at least – where there were horses potentially capable of carrying out this endurance trek. After extensive examinations and checks, we selected one hundred and sixty out over two hundred horses which were presented to us. Once the horses were selected, we signed contracts with the owners requiring them to train their horses for endurance racing for two months before the event,” explained Bady Kebir. All the horses arrived safely and in good health at the finish line thanks to the extensive and rigorous surveillance of the four veterinarians who monitored the health and well-being of the horses. In every Gallops event, inseparable pairs have been formed between rider and horse to the point of not being able to be separated from each other. Three competitors are in the process of acquiring and importing their Jordanian horses to be reunited together in their new forever home.
Whilst the finish line in front of the temple of Petra made famous by Indiana Jones was the crowning moment of the Gallops of Jordan, the five days of the adventure were marked by unforgettable moments. The highlights include the Gallops’ famous and legendary White Party in the desert in the spectacular setting of red and ochre rock formations sculpted by time where the competitors danced under the stars, and the majestic Gala Closing Ceremony in the sumptuous setting of Little Petra with members of the Jordanian Royal Family and foreign Ambassadors of the participating Nations present.
On a human level, everyone was extremely moved and inspired by the lesson of courage and optimism shown by Belgian rider Émeline Parmentier, a victim of a car accident who had both legs amputated at 23 years old. Her dream was to participate in the Gallops and reach the finish line in Petra. Goal achieved: „I set myself a pretty huge challenge, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I have also done it for other people who may experience the same difficulties as me, to prove to them that anything is possible and help them realize their dreams too.“ Courageous and inspiring!
Another emotional moment: the arrival at Petra of Her Royal Highness, the young Jordanian Princess Jalila bint Ali, niece of His Royal Highness King Abdullah II of Jordan, discovered that her father, His Royal Highness Prince Ali bin Hussein, returning from a diplomatic trip in Europe, surprised her at the finish line. Her Royal Highness Princess Jalila, 16, is an endurance enthusiast and trains hard with the goal of competing for her country in international competitions. She arrived without difficulty, surrounded by her trainer, Jehad Shhaltough, at the end of the 200-kilometer race! Other participants struggled a bit more to arrive at the finish line, but all the teams successfully crossed the finish line. The participants are already asking the Gallops organization where the next edition of the “Gallops” will be taking place! Bady Kebir, who is currently recovering from all the hard work and energy deployed from this magnificent edition, has told us that the next edition might be held in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Patagonia. Even before the participants had arrived back home, there is already a list of participants signed up for the next Gallops adventure no matter where the next location will be. The Gallops of Jordan was fully booked several months in advance and had a long waiting list. Participants are advised to book very early in order to secure a place on this extraordinary adventure of a lifetime.
1st BLUE GHALLAH (France) – 2nd QUAZANE (France) – 3rd Royal Calvary of Oman (Oman)
Afghanistan, Germany, Argentina, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Spain, United States, France, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands.
Base Camp: Bait Ali
The start of the race was at the Bait Ali Lodge Camp where the teams stayed for the two days preceding the race. At the gateway to the sublime desert of Wadi Rum, this establishment is an oasis in a desert with rooms and tents furnished with comfortable beds of a superior quality far beyond your standard desert camp. Surrounded by a Bedouin-style enclosure, it is equipped with a superb swimming pool and an excellent restaurant with a bar serving magnificent Jordanian wine. Bait Ali overflows with desert lifestyle and architecture, which is an excellent starting point to discover the Wadi Rum desert on foot, horseback or by car (the staff of Bait Ali, in particular Mohammed, will organize these desert treks for you). In true Lawrence of Arabia style, you should hop on board the famous Hejaz Railway train for an exhilarating and historical reconstruction of the Arab Revolt led by Lawrence of Arabia against the Ottoman Empire. (www.baitali.com)
Photo: R&B Presse / P. Renauldon
*The joy of the Blue Ghallah, the winning team of the Gallops of Jordan in front of the historical site of Petra: Michel Froger, Veronique Rebours, Olga Damiron, Antoine Garrigues, and Olivier Rebours. ©R&B Presse / P. Renauldon