Milan – Top French rider Aurelien Rocchia , astride Secret De Mon Coeur, came with a late run to land the FEI 120km World Championship for Young Horses, Garda Endurance Cup at the Garda Lake here on Saturday. Silvia Yebra Al Timiras, representing Spain, brought Espoir De Bozouls home less than a second later to land the silver medal as the other French rider Laurent Mosti finished third aboard Doria De Jansavis to make it a double delight for the French contingent. Doria De Janasavis itself was also named the Best Condition Horse.
Rocchia held on very strongly when he was attacked on the line by the Spanish rider to cover the distance in 6 hours, 10 minutes and 37 seconds at an average speed of 19. 427km/hr.
The race was held under the directives of HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, as part of the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival and has attracted 65 riders representing 12 countries from UAE, Italy, France, Spain, Slovakia, Portugal, Oman and elsewhere.
“We are truly indebted to HH Sheikh Mansoor for his support and initiative to promote the Arabian horse racing in both flat and endurance disciplines,” a delighted winner said later. “The race was truly tough, but the beautiful surroundings and moderate weather conditions made our job easier,” he added.
When asked about the unfortunate withdrawal of Sheikh Khalifa bin Mohammed Al Hamed when the UAE rider was five kilometres away from the finish line, Rocchia said he was really sad for the unexpected moment.
“Sheikh Khalifa was leading by nearly 19 minutes and I saw him holding the flag to start celebrations leaving us to battle for the minor places, but suddenly he decided to retire. At this stage, I believed that I could win and luckily my horse picked up nicely to get the job done,” he added.
However, the only UAE representative Sheikh Khalifa bin Mohammed Al Hamed started favourite aboard his chestnut mare Pink Allegra. He finish third after the first Vet Gate. Thereafter, he went on to hit the front by the end of the second loop and held on to enhance his lead and extended the advantage to 19 minutes before heading for the final 22.5km loop.
According to Al Jazeera-1 Stables manager Mosallam Al Amri, everything was fine and they have prepared themselves for the good news with only five kilometres remaining. But, the trainer decided to withdraw the horse. In sports you don’t know what would happen even if you’re a stride away from the finish line,” he said.
Ian Williams, FEI director paid tribute to the participants saying that the horses were ridden well and their welfare was a top priority despite the tough course and track.
“This is all what endurance is about. The horse occupies a centre stage in the heart and mind of the rider and as far as today’s ride is concerned, everything was as perfect as it should be,” he added during the prize-presentation ceremony.
Mubarak Hamad Al Nuaimi, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority said: “We are delighted to witness all this success thanks to the foresightedness of HH Sheikh Mansoor bins Zayed Al Nahyan in promoting the Purebred Arabian horse racing. This national campaign is paying off and the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival has promoted the image of this noble creature worldwide,” he added.
Lara Sawaya, director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival and Head of the IFAHR Ladies Racing said: “It was an international event organised at this magnificent venue. The organisers were helpful and cooperative and things could have not been bettered.”
“The essence of the festival’s sponsorship of the competition is to bring the flat and endurance races under one umbrella; the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival,” she added.
“The winner and runners up of the race alongside the top three finishers in the recent FEI World Endurance Championships for Young Riders and Juniors (individuals and teams) are invited to attend the final of HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship in Abu Dhabi from November 6 to 10,” she confirmed.
Meanwhile, the Local Organising Committee of the unique women event, the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak CEIO ** Endurance Cup London 2014, has been set up under the presidency of Lara Sawaya and deputy chairman John Roberson besides other members including Anna Williams, Dr. Wadouda Badran and Lulwa Al Awadhi with Adnan Sultan advisor of the committee,” she confirmed.
The HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival is organised by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and co-ordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council in association with Emirates Racing Authority, IFAHR and Emirates Arabian Horse Society, supported by General Authority for Youth and Sports Welfare and Fegentri with Emirates airlines as the official carrier and sponsored by Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), Invest AD, Arabtec Holding PJSC, Al Rashid Investment, Areej Al Ameerat, Al Awani General Enterprises, Kabale, Al Wathba Centre, the UAE’s General Women’s Union, the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2013, Dr. Nader Saab Switzerland, Wathba Stud Farm, Al Wathba Center, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Eastern Mangroves Hotel and SPA and Eastern Mangroves Suites-Abu Dhabi by Jannah.