Dubai: Shaikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum rode a tactically superior final leg to capture the prestigious HH Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Cup CEI 3* and lead a clean sweep of the top three places by the MRM stables on Saturday.
Heading out of the final veterinary gate in sixth position, and just 14 second ahead of teammate Saif Ahmad Al Mazroui, Shaikh Rashid made good progress aboard his mount Aghaab to move into contention midway through the 20km loop before delivering a strong finish to edge out Al Mazroui at the line.
Only three seconds separated the top pair with Shaikh Rashid clocking an impressive 6 hours 22.44 minutes.
“This is an honour to win the His Highness Endurance Cup and one that I did not expect,” he said. “Before today’s race I thought I had a good chance to finish in the top three. The way this horse finished the final loop — it was amazing.
“It was a tough race. The sand is not deep here in Dubai and this course is known for high speed. I am so pleased for our team to take the top three finishes. This is really amazing for our team and I am so proud of everyone.”
Shaikh Rashid’s joy was doubled as he was presented the trophy by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who was present at the Dubai International Endurance City to cheer on the competitors.
A total of 105 international riders, representing 13 countries, competed in the event that also featured the only three riders that had previously won the ride.
Each of the three had double wins in the event and included Omar Husain Abdullah Al Bloushi, who won the inaugural ride in 2008 and repeated the feat in 2011; Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri, the victor in 2009 and 2010, who was the first two-time winner and Abdullah Ganem Al Merri, the 2012 and 2013 winner, was the only rider to win the event in consecutive years.
Organised and hosted by the Dubai Equestrian Club, the prestigious HH Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Cup was presented by Longines, the official timekeeper of Meydan Group.
The roster of riders also included many prominent competitors including Shaikh Hamed Dalmook Al Maktoum, Shaikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and Shaikh Hasher Bin Mohammad Thani Juma Al Maktoum.
In winning the HH Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Cup, Shaikh Rashid was awarded an elegant Longines Conquest Classic Chronograph Automatic Rose Gold timepiece.
Shaikh Rashid is no stranger to achieving major endurance victories having been a member of the gold medal winning UAE team at the 2012 Longines FEI World Endurance Championship at Euston Park in Suffolk, UK.
He was also part of the UAE team that triumphed at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Kexington, Kentucky in 2010 and a winner of the Kylie Endurance Cup in France in 2012.