Four horses in the top five including the winner is certainly an achievement that one can be proud of. At the end of yesterday's 120-km Al Wathba Cup Endurance Ride, the home stables cried themselves hoarse with jubilation after their riders finished one after the other to complete a memorable day, fully justifying their celebrations.
Salim Nice, Director of Al Wathba Stables was delighted and told reporters that the success was the result of the hard work team put in over the last ten months. Nice, who took over the stables in January this year, said the past week has been very satisfying.
"We finished third and fourth in the Lipton Cup in Seih Assalem last week and apart from the winner Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri, we have three others in the top five and we are elated," Nice, the US-based official said.
"We are really looking forward to a good season and we do have some good horses. Right now we are trying out our horses in small groups but our strength is our well-planned and focussed programme," he said. "We have added a few horses this year and among them are some exciting prospects," Salim added.
Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, two of the top riders from the stables had a brilliant season towards the latter part and are expected to be seen in action after Ramadan.
"With bigger rides starting after Ramadan, we are hoping Sheikh Hazza and Sheikh Mansour will also compete and whatever success we have achieved so far is a direct result of their keen interest and support," Salim said.
"Large part of the success we have achieved is mainly due to the hands-on training approach by Sheikh Mansour and also the focussed efforts of Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri," Salim said.
Referring to the five out of ten finish yesterday, Salim said "We usually have a high completion rate. More number of our horses tend to finish and this is good for additional points." In fact Al Wathba's first-ever success came after Salim joined them when yesterday's winner Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri won the National Day Cup last year on Geiktor.
That was followed up by a win by Ali Khalfan's younger brother Majed Khalfan and then Sheikh Hazza and Sheikh Mansour won individual rides towards the end of the season. Sheikh Hazza completed his good run with a second place finish in the Al Ahram International Ride in Cairo with Sheikh Mansour also finishing in the top ten.
Al Wathba now are certainly at the front in the points table so far with the new season just two rides old and if they continue in the same winning vein, a promising season lays ahead.