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Love blooms in the desert for Spanish duo

Though both hail from Spain they had never met until in 2001 in Dubai and seven years later they have not only exchanged vows but progressed into world class riders.

  • By M. Satya Narayan, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 01:04 February 23, 2008
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Ravindranath/Gulf News
  • Endurance riders and husband and wife Juame Punti Dachs (left) and Maria Alvarez Ponton of Spain.

Abu Dhabi: Their interests are common as they are passionately involved in the sport of endurance.

Though both hail from Spain they had never met until in 2001 in Dubai and seven years later they have not only exchanged vows but progressed into world class riders.

Jaume Punti Dachs hails from Barcelona and arrived in the UAE in 1999 to train endurance horses for His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Maria Alvarez Ponton hails from Satander, situated on the coast of Cantabria and about 500 miles apart.

Jaume met Maria when she was part of another Spanish trainer, Antonio Moreno's stables here, and love blossomed in the desert for the Spanish pair.

They have already created history as the first husband-wife team to stand on the podium as silver and bronze medalist respectively in the European Open Championship held in Portugal last September.

Jaume, who also doubles up as Maria's trainer has seen his wife soar to the top of the current Worldwide Endurance ranking and the pair dedicate all their success to Dubai.

"I met her here in Dubai and we have a lot of common interest. Endurance tops the list but also following Barcelona's fortunes in the football world is another," said Jaume, who concedes his wife is the better rider.

"She is very good and has had a lot of success in the recent past. But we owe all this to Shaikh Mohammad who allowed us to take part in the last European Open," said Jaume.

"The fact that we are based here has helped and we gained immense experience competing with the UAE riders who are the best in the world."

Maria says she owes most of her success to Jaume. "Before the rides we chalk out the plans together and he is always advising me between the loops on how to pace my horse.

"We have both qualified for the World Championship and our horses have also qualified. Now we have to wait for the decision of the Spanish Equestrian Federation when they name the team of six," said Maria, who now leads the world raking.

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