Abu Dhabi: It was a case of third time lucky for Shaikha Najla Bint Salman Al Khalifa as the Bahraini rider lifted the Shaikha Fatma Bint Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Ladies’ Endurance Cup at the Emirates International Endurance Village in Al Wathba on Friday.
Riding Magic Glenn Harpoon — the same horse on which she had finished third twice — Shaikha Najla emerged victorious after Kamila Kart of Poland, who crossed the line first, had her horse eliminated due to lameness.
It was a great effort from Shaikha Najla as her 12-year-old bay gelding was always in contention right from the start.
Completing the 100km ride in 3 hours 24 minutes and 05 seconds, Shaikha Najla and Magic Glenn Harpoon were second after the first 33km, fourth after the second stage of 27km and then second, before going out into the final loop of 16km.
In the final loop, Kamila Kart, winner of last week’s ride in Dubai, set up a fast pace, and from sixth place powered home first. However, her horse Portos could not pass the final vet check and was eliminated.
Speaking to Gulf News after receiving the trophy, Shaikha Najla said she dedicated her win to His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and to her country Bahrain.
“His Highness Shaikh Mohammad supports us by providing horses and he is such a great endurance champion and inspires us,” Shaikha Najla, who has won many rides in Bahrain, said.
“My only tactic was to stay with the leaders. I have ridden this horse twice and finished third twice so we have a good bond going,” she added.
“I would have been happy even if Kart had won for we both were riding horses from the same stable,” the winner of the Dh350,000 event said.
In second place was the UAE’s consistent performer Fatma Jasem Al Merri on Razorback Wildfire, while French rider Nina Lissarrague on Jordan Vale Red Cloud was third.
Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Mubarak Hamad Al Muhairi, Director-General of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) and Noura Al Suwaidi, Director General of the UAE General Women’s Association, were among the dignitaries who attended the ride.