Abu Dhabi: The National Day celebrations came early for Emirati woman rider Fatima Jasem Saeed Al Merri, who made history when she became the first lady rider to win the prestigious National Day Cup 120km endurance ride at the Emirates International Endurance Village here yesterday.
Fatima rode brilliantly on 9-year-old Anglo-Arab chestnut gelding Siloah Hamza to a superb win from among 170-strong starters who included two-time world champion Maria Alvarez Ponmton and recently-crowned European Open champion Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri.
Fatima along with Mohammad Saeed Mohammad Al Faresi on Kheops De Lozelle completed a one-two finish for the Seeh Al Salam Endurance Stables.
Fatima and Siloah Hamza were placed 44th after the first stage of 33km and then the Dubai College student moved up to 21st after the next loop of 27km. It was in the third loop that Fatima forged into the leading pack and then faced some stiff completion from Maria on Portos. Fatima moved to fourth place after the third loop of 24km and with Maria making an exit in the next stage after her horse went lame, Fatima took the lead in the penultimate stage of 20km.
While compatriot Mohammad Al Faresi moved from fifth to second in the final 16km, Fatima and Siloah Hamza maintained their lead and won in 4hours 20minutes 52seconds.
"This is my horse's first win but I have won a ladies ride last year," said Fatima after winning a car for her effort.
"It was a very tough ride with so many taking part. The third loop was tough but after that I realised my horse was in good condition and I managed to win."
Sultan Ahmad Al Beloushi on Marlicia Walter saw his bid to win this event for the second year end early when his horse went lame in the second loop of the five-loop ride. Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri, who won the European Open ride earlier in the year, finished fifth on Lourizon Frost in the 120km ride.
Top 5 results in yesterday's 120km National Day Cup Endurance ride:
1. Fatima Jasem Saeed Al Merri (Siloah Hamza) 4 hours 20 minutes 52 seconds;
2. Mohammad Saeed Al Faresi (Kheops De Lozelle) 4:27:27;
3. Saeed Sultan Shames Al Maamari (IFO El Pablito) 4:30:33;
4. Ahmad Ali Al Sabri (Castlebar Cable) 4:31:09;
5. Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri (Lourizon Frost) 4:34:43.