In endurance news from Portugal it was Aurora Torres Villalon on board Nabuco who won the CEI ** while Joao Augustu Moura astride Repoker took the CEN*
April 28, 2014, Fronteira, Portugal ~ UAE riders were much in contention at the Portuguese National Championship sponsored by HH Sheikh Monsoor bin Zayed Equestrian Festival, but the Spanish riders had the home team advantage and captured the winning titles.
Aurora Torres Villalon riding Nabuco led a 1-2 finish for the Spanish riders in the CEI**Atoleiros Endurance race, the highlight of the second day of the National Equestrian Endurance Championships at the border riding centre on Sunday, April 27. Lola Gutierrez Parejo riding Beader was second and behind them finished the French contender Joel Marescassier aboard Djitane De Leyre.
The CEI **
Al Romaithi showed the way in the first three loops, dropping to fifth in the fourth vet gate before being disqualified after an unfortunate fall. Shathra Al Hajjaj, the most illustrious rider of the team, retired after vet gate three on veterinary grounds. There were four Spanish riders in the top five finis. Afra Khalifa Al Suwaidi finished sixth on Zulo, Aya Abdulla Redha Ishaq Ali finished seventh on Banado De Penastrala, and Francisco Lopes Duarte riding Cadhym bint Shimal finished eighth, Maysa Ahmed Hasan Al Braiki finished ninth on Aziza and Leonor Moreira from Poland came in tenth with Jebel de Pallares in a ride time of 8:16:53.
In the first loop UAE rider Ayesha Darwish Al Romaith took her mount Xarazan Da Tapada to set the early pace and covered the first 28.3km blue loop in one hour, 24 minutes and 26 seconds at an average speed of 19.140km/hour. At this stage in second place was the Spanish contender Miguel Rodriguez Carrera on board Vince RC, approximately four minutes off the pace. Right on her heels was compatriot Villalon Torres on Nabuco followed by four other Spanish riders who continued the press on the front runners.
“It’s a challenging track,” said the technical delegate Abdul Aziz Sheikh. “The course is partly a valley and the surface is uneven with many ups and downs on the track. In some areas there are stones, holes and muddy ground. The track is not very wide. It’s true that the riders were racing through green valley but underfoot the condition is very challenging. It’s amazing to see the riders handling the course with this relatively high speed.”
At this time UAE riders Afra Khalifa Al Suwaidi and Shathra Al Hajjaj settled in the 13th, 14th positions respectively.
Al Romaithi extended her lead by the end of the second 28.6km pink loop to 7 minutes and 43 seconds, ahead of the Spanish riders and at the end of the 25km yellow third loop, Al Romaithi continued to lead by eight minutes with two loops of 20km each remaining.
Torres Villalon was able to take the lead on the fourth loop as the early leader while Al Romaithi dropped back and settled seven minutes off the pace in fifth position before a fall put her out of contention.
At the end of the race, Saqer Nasser Ahmed Alraisi, UAE ambassador to Portugal, Adnan Sultan Al Nuaimi, director of the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Lara Sawaya, director of the HH Sheikh Manoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival and president of the Portuguese event accompanied by other Arab and foreign ambassadors and officials crowned the winners.
Alraisi commented: “We are truly grateful to His Highness the President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Advisor, Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs for making our job very easy. The wise leadership of the country has already established solid relations with the outside world and the UAE-Portuguese ties are extremely strong in all aspects of life.”
Sawaya said: “We are truly proud of the great success which has been achieved by the festival at this very beginning, but this is only the start and there are more surprises and initiatives to come under the directives and vision of HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan and HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Mother of the UAE,” she said.
“We are also thankful to all our partners, the officials and the media as well as the girls who showed great fighting spirit and courage in their first international campaign. We are sorry for the unfortunate fall of Ayesha Al Romaithi after doing a great job and luckily she’s safe and in good health. All the girls have otherwise completed the challenging race and they will take part in the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Endurance CEIO Cup in Verona Italy on July 25th,” she added.
Moroccan ambassador to Portugal Karima bin Aish commented: “I feel proud to be an Arab woman thanks to the initiative of HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan and HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Mother of the UAE. Now, the image of the Arab women in the west has changed due to this great effort of the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival. The promotion of the Arabian horse is equally a promotion and support to the heritage and culture of all of us as Arabs.”
The HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival is organised by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and coordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council in association with Emirates Racing Authority, IFAHR and Emirates Arabian Horse Society, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs , the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare with Arabtec Holding PJSC as the Official Partner and Emirates airline as the official carriers and sponsored by Invest AD, Tourism Development& amp; Investment Company (TDIC), Al Rashid Investment, Al Awani General Enterprises, Kabale, Al Wathba Centre, the UAE General Women Union, the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2014, Dr. Nader Saab Switzerland, Al Wathba Center, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Eastern Mangroves Suites-Abu Dhabi by Jannah, Abu Dhabi Sports Channel and Racing Post.