Abu Dhabi: The stage is set for the Shaikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Challenge Festival For Private Owners — a CEN 120km endurance ride to be held at Emirates International Endurance Village at Al Wathba on Saturday.

The event is held under the directives of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance.

More than 100 riders will compete for a total prize purse of Dh1 million, while the winner will drive away in a new Lexus car. The ride will start at 7am and the distance is split into five loops of 40km, 27km, 26km, 19km and 16km.

Adnan Sultan Al Nuaimi, Director-General of the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, said, “We have been working hard to complete all arrangements for this race in order to reflect the bright image of the UAE as a major venue for international endurance rides.

“We have introduced for the first time the 40km distance in a move aimed at renewing the routes of the endurance rides.”

Salem Al Sabousi, Shaikh Hamdan’s racing manager, said, “We are truly delighted to stage this annual event to support and encourage small owners within the UAE as part of the national campaign to boost Arabian horse races at all levels.”

Al Sabousi announced plans to host four endurance races during the season — three at Emirates International Endurance Village and one at Dubai International Endurance City at Seih Assalam.

Lara Sawaya, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club and IFAHR’s Ladies and Apprentice Racing Committee, added: “The HH Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival is in constant touch with Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and we would like to thank Shaikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum for supporting and encouraging the Arabian horse races.

“Shaikh Hamdan has been present all the time with his horses in the events and he is the biggest supporter of IFAHR races as well.

“Aisha Al Rumaithi, one of the girls who won gold for the UAE in Italy, represents the Seih Assalam stables of Shaikh Hamdan.”

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.