Abu Dhabi: Ali Yousuf Hussain Al Hammadi rode Niac Armor superbly in the last two loops of the 120-kilometre National Day Cup endurance ride to clinch a two-second victory at the Emirates International Endurance Village in Al Wathba on Saturday.
Al Hammadi, on the 12-year-old grey Anglo-Arab mare, started the final stage of the 16km loop at first spot but was closely followed by Shaikh Rashid Dalmouk Juma Al Maktoum on Mureib. However, Al Hammadi, who rides for the Al Wathba Stables, hung on to stave off the challenge.
Mureib’s MRM stablemate Printemps de Marot, ridden by Shaikh Hamed Dalmouk Juma Al Maktoum, settled the third spot.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Shaikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Adviser to the National Security Council, Shaikh Tahnoun Bin Zayed, Deputy National Security Advisor, and Shaikh Rashid Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum attended the ride.
Al Hammadi was ninth after the first 30km, 10th after the second stage of 28km, then second after the third stage of 26km and first after the fourth stage of 20km. He completed the 120km CEI Two-star ride in four hours 14 minutes and four seconds.
Second-placed Shaikh Rashid was lying in 30th spot after the first loop but he gained a lot of ground in the remaining four loops and finished the race in 4:14:06. Third-placed Shaikh Hamed finished the race in 4:15:12.
“This was an important win for me,” said Al Hammadi. “I wanted to win the Nations Cup and thanks to all the support given by Shaikh Mansour, we managed to put up a great performance.”
Trainer Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri was also full of praise for Niac Armor, saying: “She comes from a good bloodline. She has four career wins and last year she got injured during the President’s Cup while she was leading that race. She has very good stamina and is one of our best mares from the Al Wathba stables.”