Abu Dhabi: The all-conquering Al Reef Stables got off to a winning start with Ahmad Salem Al Beloushi on Silversprings Kabir Arwa winning the 120-kilometre Sorouh Challenge, the season's first ride at the Emirates International Endurance Village in Al Wathba on Saturday.
It was in fact a repeat of last year's winning start to the season here by the 11-year-old chestnut gelding, trained by one of the UAE's top trainer-cum-rider — Yousuf Ahmad Al Beloushi.
It was a dominating win for the young Ahmad Salem, who led in three of the five stages to complete the 120-kilometre ride in four hours 45 minutes and 13 seconds at an average speed of 25.24 kilometres per hour with veteran Hassan Bin Ali on Kalkadoon Vagabond finishing second.
"It is always great to ride a champion horse and right from the beginning I knew Silversprings Kabir Arwa was in top shape," said the winning rider, while trainer Yousuf said the horse will now aim for the President's Cup.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, attended Saturday's race.
Al Reef Stables completed a double when Abdullah Abdul Wahid rode 11-year-old Cyden Cloud Dancer to victory ahead of Indian riders Arshad Ali Sadul Khan on JG Opie and Karan Singh Rajput Singh on Jalbenmat Al Haaq.
Fahad Al Ketbi, Commercial Director, Sorouh, Taleb Daher Al Muhairi, Secretary General of Emirates Equestrian Federation, Adnan Sultan Al Nuaimi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Lara Sawaya, Director, Tasweeq gave away the trophies and the keys of a four-wheel-drive to the winner.
1. Ahmad Salim Al Beloushi (Silversprings Kabir Arwa) 4:45.13,
2. Hassan Bin Ali (Kalkadoon Vagabond) 4:49.0 1,
3. Abdullah Rashid Mohammad Al Naqbi (Blue Bonnet) 4:52.34.
4. Salman Ali Al Sabri (Emirates Stables) 4:56.07
5. Saif Sultan Abdullah Dhahi Al Bu Amim (Kamel Armor) 5:01.12.
Top three in 81 kms Sorouh Challenge:
1. Ali Abdullah Abdul Wahid (UAE), Cyden Cloud Dancer -3:29.01
2. Arshad Ali Sadul Khan (Ind) JG Opie -3:29.37
3. Karan Singh Rajput Singh (Ind), Jalbenmar Al Haw -3:35.35