Abu Dhabi: His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, secured a historic double in the Longines FEI World Endurance Championships in the UK Saturday.
He won the individual gold medal and also led the UAE squad to the team gold at the event, which was held at Euston Hall near Thetford, Suffolk.
Riding 12-year-old Madji Du Pont, Shaikh Mohammad galloped to the finish to lead home a 1-2-3 finish of the individual medals, with Shaikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum winning the silver and Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri the bronze.
Shaikh Mohammad covered the 160km distance in a time of 7 hours 00:45 minutes with an average speed of 22.8km, while Shaikh Rashid was clocked at 7:01.04 and Ali Khalfan at 7:01.04.
Shaikh Majid Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture on Nadhira Du Breuil, and Ahmad Mohammad Ahmad Belqaizi completed the testing ride to ensure that the UAE retained their team gold at the world championship.
Speaking on Dubai Racing channel on television, Shaikh Mohammad said he was thrilled to win the world championship and congratulated his team for winning the gold medal once again.
“The weather could have been worse, but God was kind and gave us some good conditions in which to race,” he said. “This feels great.”
Dubai-based Spanish rider Maria Alvarez Ponton, who was attempting to make history by winning a fifth successive championship having won two world and two European titles since 2008, finished fourth in a time of 7:12:55. Fellow Spanish rider Alex Luque Moral took fifth place in 7:20.21.
Shaikh Mohammad’s French-bred Madjid Du Pount is based at the Emirates Stables in Dubai and is trained by endurance rider Juma Punti Dachs, the husband of Ponton.
Also featuring in the line-up of over 150 riders from 39 countries were two other world champions, Becky Hart and Valerie Kanavy.
However, Shaikh Mohammad and the UAE riders produced a strategic display of endurance riding to complete a dominating victory after Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, riding Nikos, was forced out of the ride early.
Shaikh Rashid set the pace for the entire ride and led the top finishers in the final run to the judge but was overtaken by Shaikh Mohammad about 400 metres from home.
Alvarez is a two-time world champion, while Hart has won the title on three occasions. Amiercn veteran Kanavy is also a former world champion.
Alvarez, who once again partnered her 17-year-old superstar Nobby, was attempting to make history by winning a fifth successive championship, having won two world and two European titles since 2008.
The UAE’s Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Rashid Al Maktoum had won the individual gold medal at the World Endurance Championships in 2002.
Giving the UAE a strong challenge were riders from Qatar, Bahrain, French, Spain, Germany, Italy and America.
The competition carried a total purse of £125,000, with the individual winner receiving £ 20,000. The winning team collected £12,000.
1) Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum (UAE/ Madji De Pont) 07:00:45 secs.
2) Shaikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum (UAE/ Kangoo D’Aurabell) 07:01.04 secs.
3) Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri (UAE/ Vendaval) 07:01.04 secs.
4) Maria Alvarex Ponton (Spain/ Nobby) 07:12:55 secs
5) Alex Luque Moral (Spain/ Ikland) 07:20.21 secs.