Abu Dhabi: Abdullah Rashid Mohammad Saeed Al Naqbi took top honours at the 120km Shaikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Challenge Festival Endurance Ride For Private Owners at the Emirates International Endurance Village in Al Wathba on Saturday.
Al Naqbi rode 11-year-old Arab gelding Rowallan Dee Jay, trained by Ahmad Mahfouz at the Al Hayar Stables, to first place.
Rowallan made smooth progress from eighth and was in second place after four of the five stages with just 16km to go. In the lead at that stage was Rashid Saeed Al Kamda on Baraja, but a steady pace in the final loop saw Al Naqbi finish ahead of the pack in four hours, 46 minutes and 15 seconds at an average speed of 25.15km/hour.
Al Kamda finished second, about two minutes behind, while Uruguayan Jonatan Rivera Iriarte on HH Ciabu was six minutes off the pace in third.
“The race was tough despite the favourable weather conditions,” the winner said. “The second stage was the most difficult and the speed was lowered because of the sand.”
Trainer Mahfouz added: “We are preparing this horse for future challenges, including the HH The President’s Cup. It’s great to see him doing very well in today’s contest.”
Shaikh Saeed Bin Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum attended the event and gave away the prizes and trophies to the winners, alongside Lara Sawaya and Adnan Sultan. The winner recieved a new car, while the Dh1m prize-money was distributed proportionately to the riders who finished the race.
Sawaya — Executive Director of the HH Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, Chairman of the International Federation of Horse Racing Academies (IFHRA), Chairman of the Ladies Racing Committee in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR), and Chairman of Apprentice Jockeys & Racing in IFAHR — said: “Today’s ride was a grand success. This is an important event in our calendar and we thank His Highness Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, for his continuous support to the activities of the Festival.
“Thanks to his support, the stables of Shaikh Hamdan have been actively participating both in the Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup and HH Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship (IFAHR) flat racing, as well as the Festival’s endurance rides.”
Regarding the upcoming inaugural general meeting of IFHRA, Sawaya said: “Representatives from 17 countries will sit to draft the statutes of the new body, among other issues on the agenda.”
The Shaikh Mansour Festival is organised by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and coordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council in association with Emirates Racing Authority, IFAHR and Emirates Arabian Horse Society, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare.