Compiegne, France: Abdullah Ganem Al Merri on Quran El Ulm came up with a superb finish to win the HH Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival-sponsored Festival Mondial d’Endurance HH Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Cup ride in Compiegne, France, yesterday.
Completing a one-two triumph for the UAE was Shaikh Abdullah Bin Faisal Al Qasimi on Laiza De Jalima, while French duo Marine Saignie on Qrafiq La Majorie and Ludovic Saroul on Magdan Solal were third and fourth. Another UAE rider, Ahmad Dahi Salem Al Muhairbi on Talik Ben Melfik, was fifth.
The HH Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Cup — named for sponsorship reasons but open to all riders — was run in four stages of 37km, 33.1km, 30.3km and 20.1km and a total of 121 horses started.
It was yet another dominant display by UAE riders, with Saif Ahmad Al Mazroui — who won the 160km ride on Friday — on Jager FPA leading the field into the final stage. At that stage, Al Merri was fourth and, with Quran Al Ulm, winner of a 160km ride here, in good condition, the 18-year-old UAE star forged ahead to post an easy win.
Al Merri completed the 120km distance in 5 hours 6 minutes and 5 seconds, while Shaikh Faisal finished in 5:08.22 and the French riders were timed at 5:10.11 and 5:24.48 respectively.
Al Merri, who has the rare distinction of winning the HH Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup 160km twice, said it was a challenging ride. “The competition was just like in a world championship and the course is also a tough one. But the UAE riders proved we are second to none and I am very happy with this win,” he said.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, attended the final day’s action.
Shaikh Mohammad and Shaikh Hamdan congratulated the UAE riders after their victory.
Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the HH Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival and Chairman of Ladies Racing at the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR), said: “The UAE riders once again proved their superiority at [an] international level.”
She added: “The Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival will be sponsoring the World Junior and Young Riders Championship to be held in October 2015 in Chile. The festival will also be sponsoring two endurance rides in Fontainebleau in France in March and October next year.”
The HH Shaikh Mansour 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 the Emirates Racing Authority, IFAHR and the Emirates Arabian Horse Society.
The festival is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare, with Arabtec Holding as official partner and Emirates airline as the official carrier.
1. Abdullah Ghanim Al Marri (Quran El Ulm) 5 hours 06 minutes 05 seconds
2. Shaikh Abdullah Bin Faisal Al Qasimi (Laiza De Jalima) 5:08.22
3. Marine Saignie (Qrafiq La Majorie) 5:10.11
4. Ludovic Saroul (Magdan Solal) 5:24.48
5. Ahmad Dahi Salem Al Muhairbi (Talik Ben Melfik) 5:41.20