(L-R) Mubarak Al Nuaimi of ADTC, Lara Sawaya, Adnan Sultan Al Nuaimi and Talal hashmi of Abu Dhabi sports council attending the press confrence to announce the wathba qualifier endurance race at the emirates international endurance village. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: A cash prize of Dh500,000 including a car awaits the winner of the first big endurance ride of 2013.

Nearly 200 riders are expected to take part in the 120km Emirates Championship to be held at the Emirates International Endurance Village in Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Adnan Sultan Saif Al Nuaimi, Director-General of Abu Dhabi Equestrian Federation, said, “We are expecting around 200 horses for the Emirates Championship. We will also be staging an 80km Qualifier ride today [Friday].”

“The 120km ride will be held in five stages of 33kms, 27kms, 24kms, 20kms and 16 kms and total prize money including a car will be Dh500,000 for the Emirates Championship,” he added.

Al Nuaimi also announced a three-day Abu Dhabi Endurance Festival from March 28 onwards.

“We will be staging a 120km ride for Private Owners, a 100km ride for ladies and a 140km Open ride on March 28, 29 and 30 respectively,” he said.

Lara Sawaya, Director of the Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival and Head of Ladies Racing in IFAHR said: “The Festival will be taking part in a Horse Show to be held in Oman next week. We will be launching the HH Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship IFAHR, again in Oman after that,” Sawaya said.

“One Australian professional jockey will join the amateur lady jockeys with the UAE’s Shathra Al Hajjaj also in the line-up, Another UAE lady jockey Hanadi Al Minhali will also be in Oman to soak up the experience. She is expected to be taking part in the series later,” she said.

Talal Al Hashemi, representing the Abu Dhabi Sports Council said, “The ADSC is always keen to ensure traditional sport like endurance and Arabian horse racing is promoted.”

Mubarak Al Muhairi of Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority said, “Purebred Arabian horses and the sport they indulge in is very close to the hearts of the UAE nationals and we support it as part of our heritage and culture.”

“We have been involved in the equine field for over 32 years and it is great privilege to be involved in this prestigious Emirates Championship,” said Abdul Kareem Feroze, General Manager of Al Awani General Enterprises Establishment.

Today’s 80km Wathba Qualifier will be run in three stages of 30kms, 30kms and 20kms and tomorrow the field for the 120km Emirates championship will get off to a mass start at 6.30am.