January 14, 2012, Dubai, UAE ~ The UAE’s Abdulla Ghanim Al Marri of Nad Al Sheba Stables proved a master of pace as the 17-year-old guided his mount Cronus to a :27 (second) victory over Bahrain’s Ahmed Abdulla Al Hazza to become the youngest winner of the prestigious HH Sheikh Mohammed bid Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Cup CEI*** held at 160km.
A field of 121 international riders, representing 18 separate countries, competed in the event that began at 7am at the Dubai International Endurance City.
Prominent riders from the UAE included Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who last month successfully guided the UAE Endurance Team to a thrilling Gold Medal victory in the 12th Pan Arab Games held in Qatar. Also contesting the event were Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Juma Al Maktoum, Sheik Rashid bin Dalmook al Maktoum and Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum.
Third place went to Mohammed Ahmed Hassan Al Abbar of the UAE as he rode the 14-year-old mare Kumait for Al Aasfa Limited to finish 8 minutes and 55 seconds behind the winner.
The prestigious competition, that annually serves as the highlight of the Dubai Endurance season was held for horses seven years old and above and featured five loops that included: 40km, 36km, 33km, 32km and 19km.
As the top three riders began the fifth and final loop they were divided by only a mere one minute and 33 seconds. Ahmed Abdulla Al Hazza of the Royal Endurance Team of Bahrain, aboard the 10-year-old gelding Picaflor, led the trio out of the gate and was followed a brief 16 seconds behind by the UAE’s Sultan Ahmed Al Baloushi. The eventual winner, Abdulla Ghanim Al Marri was faced by a significant challenge inhe final loop as he started another one minute and 17 seconds back and was forced make up the difference in the 19km loop. Al Hazza had maintained a consistent pace throughout each loop of the ride with placements of fifth, second, second and fifth.
Ahmbed Abdulla Al Hazza said: “This is the biggest win of my riding experience. I thank His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for hosting this race and the Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum for his support and his competition in racing in today’s event. It was a very fast pace in the final loop so I could take the lead. No one enters a race that is this big and thinks they can win; you only hope you can win. My hopes came true today.”
Longines awarded Abdulla Ghanim Al Marri an elegant Longines Column-Wheel Chronograph 18 carat Gold timepiece.
Organized and hosted by the Dubai Equestrian Club, the fifth running of the HH Sheikh Mohammed bid Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Cup was presented by Longines, the official timekeeper of Meydan Group, and supported by Emirates Airline, official airline of Meydan Group.