February 7, 2014, Abu Dhabi ~ International riders numbering 142 took to the desert in the 120km Sheikh Rashid bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Challenge Festival CEN 120km endurance at the Emirates International Endurance Village in Al Wathba on Saturday, February 7.
As the dust cleared it was UAE top rider Saeed Ahmad Jaber Al Harbi astride Raksha, trained by Mubarak bin Shafya, who landed the Festival win for UAE Al Aasfa Ltd. covering the distance in 4 hours, 21 minutes and 10 seconds at an average speed of 27.56km/hr. He came in ahead of compatriots Rashid Al Baloushi and Mohammed Hamad.
The event was held under the directives of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The winner drove home a brand new 4WD car and a share of the Dh.1m prize-money which was distributed among the riders who have completed the race (Dh10,000 – €2,000).
UAE rider Sultan Ahmed Al Baloushi from the Etihad Stables on board the 11-year-old Anglo Arab gelding Buren Dah Orlando showed the way to lead by the end of the first 40km Yellow loop.
The winning rider Saeed Ahmad Jaber Al Harbi went on the heels of the pace maker astride his 10-year-old Anglo Arab gelding to complete the first loop one minute off the pace.
At the end of the second loop Al Baloushi had dropped to second to finish three seconds off the pace. He then fought back to regain the lead by the end of the 19km third loop which was marked in Red after he has reversed places with Javed Khan. But it was Al Harbi who did the better work when it mattered in the concluding stages.
“My horse was picking up very nicely and the difference between us was not that big. Javed Khan quickened in the second loop to advance from seventh to first, but I didn’t have the feeling that he was complicating my job,” Al Harbi said after his horse passed the vet test with 34 kilometers remaining to be covered.
“The race was held under nearly perfect weather conditions and the speed was very high which underlines the good preparation and fitness of the participating riders and their horses,” the winner said later. The speed came down to 27.76 km/ hour and this is another indicator that the horses were well-tuned for the race which was held under good weather conditions,” he added.
However, from the 142 riders who have started the race, 22 were eliminated or disqualified in the first stage. The number of disqualifications was increased to 30 by the end of the second phase and raised to 43 as the riders crossed the finish line at the third vet Gate.
Supporters who attended the race included: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Minister of Finance and Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Sheikh Rashid bin Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
According to Adnan Sultan Al Nuaimi, director general of the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, under the directives of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, three more races will be held within the Sheikh Rashid bin Hamdan Festival at the Emirates International Endurance Village.
Lara Sawaya, director of the Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival commented: “The festival registered a great success from all respects thanks to the perfect weather conditions. The big number of participants has also underlined the importance and strength of the competition.
Endurance Calendar to be announced
“The Sheikh Mansoor Festival is intensifying preparations for the HH The President Cup at the Emirates International Endurance Village on Saturday February 15, and 50 international personalities from the equine sport have been invited to attend the race. The FEI Endurance races chairman alongside the organizers of the endurance events in the host countries at the FEI will attend a special news conference during which the calendar of the Sheikh Mansoor Festival endurance races will be announced.
Rider, Horse, Type, Ride Time
1. Saeed Ahmad Jaber Al Harbi – Raksha, A/A – 4:21:10
2. Rashid Mohd Ib Al Baloushi – Quick Star Du Real, A/A 4:21:57
3. Moh Hamad Ahmad Al Kindi – Alandell Corvet, Arabian 4:22
4. Mod Juma Hod Ali Al Muhairi – Colonial Boy, Arabian 4:23:19
5. Humaid Alkoas Al Falasi -Tacka, A/A 4:23:25
6. Saeed Salem Al Mazrouei Al Yassi – Fanmar Baza, Arabian 4:29:50
7. Sultan ahmed al Baloushi -Buren Dah Orlando, A/A 4:31:01
8. Yahya Suyghayer Kanoon Al Ajtabi – Isis, Arabian 4:31:41
* A/A – Anglo Arabian
48 riders finished the ride; the last in 06:31:17 was Guillem Soldevila Altarriba on Birmania A/A rider from Spain