Abu Dhabi: Former UAE national team rider Mohammad Ali Al Shafar won the HH The President’s Cup 160-kilometre endurance ride on his consistent horse Orman De Cardonne.
Al Shafar, who is also the trainer of endurance horses at his family owned Al Reeh Endurance Stables, and a multi-ride winner in the UAE, had never won the President’s Cup and his stable staff were so elated with the win that they celebrated wildly for quite some time.
Al Shafar and his 11-year-old grey Arabian gelding finished seventh in last month’s equally gruelling 160km Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup and carried that form into yesterday’s ride, in which 132 riders started.
Fourth at the end of the third stage, Al Shafar kept Orman De Cardonne with the leaders and held his position before the final stage of 16km.
But the experienced Al Shafar made light work of the 44-second deficit and was soon in the lead, going on to win by 44 seconds from 13-year-old Khalifa Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri, the son of European champion and current UAE national team rider Ali Khalfan.
It was a creditable display by Khalifa, who was taking part in his first 160km event, which he managed to finish off in style. The teenager has already proved his pedigree by completing both a 120km two-star and a 160km three-star event at his first attempt.
Completing the third spot on the podium was Saeed Saqer Mohammad Al Ameri on Eclipse, and the top three riders were awarded handsome trophies and a car each, as well as a slice of the Dh1,500,000 prize fund.
Speaking to Gulf News after his win, Al Shafar said: “Yeah, it was a long time coming. It’s great to have won the country’s most prestigious event. My best-ever finish in this event was a fourth place.
“The competition was very tough and I just decided to keep pace with the leaders. That was my only tactic. My horse has a great heart and he proved it. He just keeps improving.”
Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, riding Nikos, was third after the third loop, but his horse ran into some problems and needed treatment, forcing his withdrawal.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, and Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, attended yesterday’s ride.
Results of Saturday’s HH The President’s Cup 160-km endurance ride:
1. Mohammad Ali Al Shafar (Orman de Cardonne) 6 hrs 06 mins 24 secs
2. Khalifa Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri (Farak) 6:07.08;
3. Saeed Saqer Mohammad Al Ameri (Eclipse) 6:08.40;
4. Fatima Jassem Saeed Al Marri (Ohio) 6:10.42;
5. Rashid Mohammad Al Beloushi (Cairos) 6:13.57.