Dubai: Teenager Saif Al Mazrouei stole the thunder in the 11th edition of HH Shaikh Mohammad Endurance Cup on Saturday. Al Mazrouei, aboard Nopoli Del Ma, emerged victorious in the CEI 3* 160-km event, presented by Longines, at the purpose-built Dubai International Endurance City.
The HH Shaikh Mohammad Endurance Cup headlines the four-day HH Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Cup Festival, which opened on December 28 and concluded on Saturday.
“This was a very important race for me to win, because it is named after His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and we are so proud to have won this race. My horse Nopoli Del Ma is a champion horse, and this is definitely the biggest win of my career,” the 18-year-old rider said.
Al Mazrouei had first announced his talent to the world in 2015 when he won gold at the 120-km FEI World Endurance Championships for Young Horses in Valeggio Sul Mincio, Italy. Trained at MRM Stables, Al Mazrouei’s horse, 14-year-old Nopoli Del Ma, is the one that was ridden by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, when he won the 2015 edition of HH Shaikh Mohammad Endurance Cup.
Shaikh Hamdan also won the 2016 running of the prestigious competition, while last year Humaid Matar Rashid Al Mazrouei emerged victorious aboard Rajas.
The the 160-km ride on Saturday had 360 competitors starting the ride, from 44 countries with former European champions and former world champions joining a host of local and international horse-rider pairings in the competition. The first group of riders embarked upon the 160-km, five loop course at 7 AM, with the sun rising in the backdrop. The distances for the five loops were 40-km, 35-km, 35-km, 32-km and 18-km respectively.
The HH Shaikh Mohammad Endurance Cup Festival opened with the two Azizi Developments-sponsored rides. The first was a CEN 100-km race, restricted to private stables and individuals on December 28, which was won by the UAE rider Gaith Abdul Saqer on board his champion horse, nine-year-old bay Al Adham. The pair completed the 100 kms in a timing of 03:16:32.
This was followed by the CEN 100-km HH Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup for Ladies on December 29, where Polish rider Kamila Kart aboard nine-year-old Razorback Mechano emerged victorious. Kart, who rides for MRM stables, completed the 100-km three loop ride with Razorback Mechano in 03:11:11.
A day later, the Al Tayer Motors-sponsored CEN 120-km Gamilati Cup for Mares added variety to this unique event. Rashid Hamoud Al Junaibi and his mare, Eo Raghd, emerged victorious and completed the 120-km ride with a timing of 04:28:15.