Dubai: Salem Hamad Al Ketbi led a UAE sweep of three of the four classes at the prestigious HH Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum UK Endurance Cup Festival at Euston Park in England on Saturday.
The 21-year-old Al Ketbi, who has 49 rides under his belt, completed the gruelling CEI 3* 180km ride in seven hours, 34 minutes and 26 seconds aboard the grey gelding Klim De Jansavis.
Spanish rider Eulalia Gonzalez Guardia took the runner-up slot with nine-year-old stallion Umrod De Keropartz. He crossed the finish line at the Suffolk venue in 07:35:34 seconds.
Third place went to another Emirati rider, Saeed Sultan Al Maari, aboard the 14-year-old mare Preume De Paute. The 25-year-old Al Maari, who has had an up-and-down season, clocked 07:35:35 seconds.
Another UAE rider, Hamad Obaid Rashed Al Kaabi, clocked the best time but his horse was disqualified at the final vet gate.
Earlier, Saeed Ahmad Jaber gave himself a belated birthday present when he upstaged a strong field of 110 riders to win the CEI 2* class over a distance of 120km.
Al Jaber, who is currently in No 23 position in the Open Riders World Endurance Ranking, partnered the 10-year-old gelding Aspenview Amir to victory in a time of 4 hours 44 minutes and 20 seconds.
The talented Emirati horseman celebrated his 20th birthday on Friday.
Abdullah Ganem Al Merri, aboard the 14-year-old mare Castlebar Jumeirah, finished a close second in 04:44:21 seconds while Mohammad Ahmad Ganem Al Merri, also of the UAE was third aboard the seven-year-old gelded chestnut Fagor in 04:44:22.
The third UAE triumph at an East Aglican county of Euston Park was delivered by up-and-coming rider Shaheen Yayhya Shaheen Khalfan Al Mazroui in the 120km CEI 2* ride for Juniors.
A field of 41 were flagged off at the start but only seven riders made it home.
Fourteen-year-old Al Mazroui showed plenty of mature to pace his 12-year-old gelding Zulo to claim a third career victory in what was only his 10th ride since he made his endurance debut in an 80km CEI 2* rider in Dubai in March last year.
He completed the 120-km course in five hours, two minutes and 50s seconds.
Earlier this year Al Mazroui announced himself as a future force in endurance riding when taking top honours at San Vito al Tagliamento, Italy in June. He was also an eye-catching runner-up in a Young Riders and Junior event at Euston Park in July. Saturday’s ride was his seventh of the year.
French rider Lea Vanderkerckhove (Safi Safra) was runner-up in 05:02:51s with Italy’s Chiara Careddu (Nabukko) taking third place with a time of 05:18:43s.
Sweden’s Annelie Eriksson denied the UAE of a clean sweep at the championships when she held on for a narrow victory over the Emirati pair of Ali Abdul Rahman Al Zarouni (Alaurza) and 15-year-old Hassan Salman Hassan Mohammad Al Sabri (Ursula De Plouvorn), who made his debut 12 months ago.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win at such a prestigious event,” said Eriksson.
“The course was a bit difficult after the rain, but my horse coped very well. I brought three horse with me and the other two finished the ride as well. So I’m very happy.
“It’s important to choose the right horse for events like these which are the best in the world,” she added.