Dubai: Humaid Matar Rashed Al Mazroui on Rajas of M7 Endurance Stables won the HH Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Cup CEI***160km, presented by Longines, at the Dubai International Endurance City on Saturday.
Al Mazroui finished the race in 6:43:27 hours, followed by MRM Stables’ Mansour Saeed Mohammad Al Faresi on Tiswan Fageole and Salem Hamad Saeed Malhoof Al Kitbi on HLP Bask of M7 Endurance Stables in third.
With defending champion Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, not bidding for his hat-trick, the race was wide open.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Shaikh Hamdan, who had won on Ajayeb in 2016 and Napoli Del Ma in 2015, followed the race closely from the sidelines.
In all, 263 riders took to the race around the gruelling sandy terrain around Arqub Al Jela and Al Bedud, comprising five loops of 40km, 35km, 35km, 32km and 18km.
The 40km loop 1 Yellow was finished first by UAE’s Layla Mohammad Obaid Al Marzouqi on Ojai Dents de Lion. However, she had to start second behind compatriot Al Mazroui as her horse took more time to recover. Rashed Theyab Ghanim Al Mazroui on Dliffey was third followed by Shaikh Rashid Bin Dalmouk Al Maktoum on Ezaaj — a 2014 winner of the race.
Layla led the proceedings in the next 35km loop 2 Red as well but it looked as if she had pushed a bit too much as her horse failed to clear the vet check. MRM Stables’ Hamad Obaid Rashed Al Kaabi on Sahem, who was sixth after loop 1, was first followed by Ghaith Abdul Wahid Khamis Saqer on Intisaar and Ahmad Ali Saif Al Nassiri on Siloah Big Red was third.
Al Kaabi kept his composure in the third loop and despite reducing his speed from 24.66km/h to 22.27km/h, held on to his top position after the 110km mark.
However, Khamis Saqer and Al Nassiri traded positions behind him. In the race dominated by the UAE riders, Argentine Magali Mendes on Sapucay was the only rider to split the top nine by hanging on to the six spot.
Bahrain’s Shaikh Mohammad Bin Mubarak Al Khalifa on Waterlea Dawn Treader was 10th, followed by last year’s runner-up and the 2012 & 2013 winner Abdulla Ghanim Al Marri on Tim Ami. By now, almost half the field was blown away owing to the tough challenge — 102 eliminated to be precise before going into the 32km loop 4 Blue.
Al Marri had lined himself well for the final 18km loop on fourth by setting up the pace in the 32km fourth loop. Al Kaabi also kept his dominance and had his nose in front going into the final loop, which had 10 Emirati riders occupying the top 10 spot including Al Faresi and Al Ketbi.
Towards the end of the final stages, there were only four riders bunched together and Al Mazroui finished in the pack to be declared the eventual winner after his horse cleared the vet test.
1. Humaid Matar Rashed Al Mazroui, UAE (Rajas) 6:43:27
2. Mansour Saeed Mohd Al Faresi, UAE (Tiswan Fageole) 6:43:28
3. Salem Hamad Saeed Malhoof Al Kitbi, UAE (HLP Bask) 6:43:28
4. Abdulla Ghanim Al Marri, UAE (Tim Ami) 6:48:48
5. Hamad Obaid Rashed Al Kaabi, UAE (Sahem) 6:49:40.