Abu Dhabi: Jesus Manuel Berna of Spain became the first ever foreign rider to win two consecutive races in the UAE.

He achieved the feat with a fantastic win in the prestigious UAE National Day Cup yesterday and gave the Al Reef Stables yet another win.

In fact, it has been a clean sweep for Al Reef Stables - owned by Shaikh Tahnoun Bin Zayed Al Nahyan - as they have won all the four Open rides so far in the current season.

Berna, who has been with Al Reef Stables for over six years now, rode 14-year-old bay gelding Estaban yesterday and for a brief period midway through, was battling with another Spaniard Jaume Punti Dachs.

Both are trainer-cum-riders and with the climate being kind to the horses yesterday, the pace was red hot.

Berna, as usual, started slowly and was 27th after the first stage.

Gradually he moved into 16th place and in the third stage he was 7th while Jaume was in the lead.

Estaban, who almost finished joint first in the November 18 ride here, was in top condition and Berna went for it in the fourth.

At the end of 104 kms Berna took the lead with Esteban and after that he consolidated to win his second successive ride.

Difficult course

He had also won the Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Challenge ride on December 2.

"This is the fourth time I am riding this horse since he joined our stables three years ago.

"I finished 7th and then 5th while last month I finished second with the same horse," said the winner.

"Though the climate was good the course was very difficult as it was wet and heavy due to the rain. But my horse was pulling and was always keen to go at a very fast pace," said Berna, whose ride average speed of 25.66 km was on the higher side.

With some of the top riders hailing from the UAE, riders from outside the UAE find it very difficult to win rides on the domestic circuit here and Berna's familiarity with the local terrain must have certainly been of great help.

Berna and Esteban were followed home by Dahi Abdullah Khamis on Omani Iman nearly ten minutes behind with Jaume dropping to third place on Don Sala.

Commenting on the winning spree by Al Reef Stables, Berna said it was due to the astute planning by the management.

"Shaikh Tahnoun takes immense interest in the training programmes while Dr Jaber Bittar has chalked out crystal-clear programmes for us.

"We are totally about five different trainers and it is a well-coordinated effort in the two centres in Al Ain and Al Abjan," said the Spanish rider.

A total of 102 riders started in the FEI CEI Three-star ride which was sponsored by Nakheel.

The UAE National Day Cup-Nakheel-120-km ride:

1. Jesus Manuel Berna-Spain-(Estaban) 4 hrs 40mins 34secs;

2. Dahi Abdullah Khamis (Omani Iman) 4:50.21;

3. Jaume Punti Dachs-Spain-(Don Sala) 4:58.04;

4. Marzooq Salem Al Meri (Ro-Fabiola) 5:04.09;

5. Naser Abdullah Al Marzouqi (Deen) 5:08.25;

6. Salem Rashed Bin Ghadayer (El Estande) 5:08.27

7. Yousef Abdullah Al Hammadi (Phoenix) 5:13.41;

8. Majid Mohammad Al Sabri (Zakah Zahara) 5:22.16;

9. Pio Juan Miguel Amaya-Uruguay-(EO Kitaba) 5:30.07;

10. Hassan Abdullah Yousef Al Hammadi (Khattaf) 5:31.31