Dubai: Having narrowly been denied 12 months ago, Salim Said Al Owais promised himself that he would one day win the HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup, one of the most prestigious endurance rides on the UAE calendar with prize money totally Dh7 million.
And he did not have to wait long.
The talented young horseman finally got his hands on the coveted trophy on Saturday following a masterful ride aboard the 12-year-old Castlebar Cadabr, a handsome Purebred Arabian representing the powerful F3 Endurance Stables.
In second place, just 15 seconds behind Al Owais, was Argentina’s Martina Spelanzon aboard Muntasir while Saeed Ahmed Jaber Al Harbi took third place aboard Longrun Mikami, to complete a one-two-three finish for F3 stables.
Sponsored by Longines, the 160km CEI 3 Star ride brought together more than 243 riders representing 46 countries including Australia, Britain, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, India, Pakistan, Spain, Ecuador, Kazakastan and Portugal.
“This was my dream,” said a delighted Al Owais, who clocked 06:24:00 hours for the 160 kilometre ride held at the Dubai International Endurance City, Seeh, Al Salarm.
“I came so close last year and was determined to come back stronger this time. I put a plan in place and followed it all the way through.
Al Owais said he has always been inspired by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, a former endurance world champion himself.
“His Highness inspired me to raise my game and deliver the best performance of my career,” he said. “It’s not easy, but if you work hard and remain committed anything is possible in the sport of endurance.
“I have won some good rides, at Euston Park in the UK, but this one is extra special as it is run in the UAE and carries the name of His Highness. It makes me very proud.”
Al Owais said that patience was the key to his victory. He was 25th at the first of five gates and 23rd at the second. This was where he made his move, improving stealthily during the third loop to reach the vet gate in a comfortable seventh position.
After this he would progress to fifth place before launching his victory bid in the final loop, reining in Spelanzon and Al Habri who were in second and third place respectively.
Shaikh Mohammad was present at Dubai International Endurance City along with Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.
The ride was the culmination of the Shaikh Mohammad Endurance Festival which began with the 120km Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Ride for Ladies (December 27), followed by the 120km Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Ride restricted to private stables (December 28) and the prestigious 120km Gamilati Cup for mares (December 29).