Dubai: A record 200 riders representing 19 countries will be seen in action in the Italia Verona Endurance Festival being held under the umbrella of the HH Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival on Saturday and Sunday.

The two-day extravaganza features the first CEIO Two Star Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Endurance Cup, a world class ladies’ competition being held in Europe for the first time.

Sunday’s action is highlighted by the Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Endurance Cup OPEN CEI Two Star ride, the Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Endurance Cup (Young and Junior riders) Two Star event and the Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Endurance Cup One Star ride.

The UAE ladies’ team will be represented by Shathra Al Hajjaj, Alia Kazim Al Khafajy, Ayesha Al Romaithi, Afra Khalifa Al Suwaidi and Aya Abdul Redha.

Hosts Italy will field over 30 riders, who will be joined by top riders from more than 15 countries in the 120-kilometre ride.

Mussalem Alamri, the Chef D’Equipe of the UAE ladies’ team, said that she hopes that ‘the UAE team will do well in this competition’.

Noora Al Suwaidi, Secretary General, UAE General Women’s Union and Chairman of the UAE Women’s Sports Committee, added: “This is a very proud event for the lady riders from the UAE. This event will surely give lady riders not only in the UAE, but also from around the world a great opportunity to be involved in an international competition amongst themselves.”

“We thank His Highness Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, and Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme President of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and Head of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood and Mother of the world, for this event.”

Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the Festival and Chairman of Ladies Racing at IFAHR and Honorary President of Italia Endurance Festival, said: “We are looking forward to some exciting action over the next two days.

“The Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Endurance Cup will now be part of the annual calendar and will be held in different venues.”

“We thank Bahrain for their support to the Festival as Shaikha Najla Bint Salman Al Khalifa will also be competing.”

The UAE’s top endurance trainers Esmail Mohammad (MRM Stables), Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri (Al Wathba Stables), Yousuf Ahmad Al Balouchi (Al Ittihad Stables) and Hassan Rakan Al Mansouri, have all extended their support to the UAE lady riders by providing them horses from their respective stables.

All four trainers expressed their belief that the UAE lady riders will put up a highly commendable show in the international event as they have gained some experience from the previous rides hosted by the Festival in Europe earlier this season.