A brilliant performance in the final 16-km stage by UAE teenager Abdulla Ghanim Al Marri on his ten-year-old Arabian stallion Quran El Ulm helped him score a narrow win to lift the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival’s prestigious National Day Cup 120-km Endurance Ride at the Emirates International Village in Al Wathba here on Saturday.
Al Marri, representing Fazza 3 Stables, started the final 16-km loop in 7th place did very well to finish just one second ahead of the ride’s early leader Mohammed Al Abbar on Raksha. Saeed Jaber Al Harbi on JQ Safi Safra completed a 1-2-3 sweep by the UAE riders while Argentinean contender Martina Spelanzon finished fourth.
The winner covered the distance in 4 hours, 10 minutes and 39 seconds at an average speed of 28.72km/ hour.
The event was attended by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, HH Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Advisor, HH Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy National Security Advisor, HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affaires, HH Sheikh Sultan bin Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, Advisor to the His Highness the President and Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
The top 11 finishers drove away the 11 4WD vehicles that were on offer by the Emirates International Endurance Village.
The race was held under the directives of HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan and had attracted a quality field of 164 riders representing UAE, Gulf states, Europe, Latin America and elsewhere, led by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa bin Mohammed Al Nahyan as part of the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival and sponsored by Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Invest AD.
Following his previous wins in UAE, UK and France, the 19-year-old Al Marri said this particular success is very special for him and would like to dedicate his success to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and to Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.
“I have followed the plan of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum who was supervising my progress in the race. I have ridden my horse patiently and settled in the middle of the field,” said the winner who was in 36th place after three of the five loops.
“Quran El Ulm is a good horse and I have expected myself to win when I saw my horse showing his stamina in the final two loops. He was picking up very impressively and travelled well to put his head in front on the line,” he added.
Ironically, Al Marri had to lose a few minutes after he has lost the reins before the end of the second loop, but everything was fine thereafter.
Adnan Sultan, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club congratulated their Highnesses the Sheikhs on the successful staging of the endurance race noting that the ideal weather conditions was very helpful for the riders and the horses as well.
Ms Lara Sawaya, Executive Director, HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, Chairman of the Int’l Federation of Horse Racing Academies (IFHRA), Chairman of Ladies Racing & Apprentice Racing Committee in the Int’l Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities ( IFAHR) commented: “The presence of Their Highnesses the Sheikhs have added great value to the race as the UAE celebrates the 43rdanniversary of the National Day. The participation of 164 riders proved once again that the endurance races are fast growing thanks to the support and motivation of HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan.”
“We are looking forward to host the first meeting of the Int’l Federation of Horse Racing Academies at the Eastern Mangroves Hotel in Abu Dhabi on January 2nd, 2015 to setup and discuss the future strategies and plans of the new body. This will be followed by a news conference the next day to announce the international calendar of the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival for 2015,” she added.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Suroor Al Sharqi of Invest AD, Saif Al Awani of Al Awani Group and Abdul Rahman Al Rumaithi also attended the prize giving ceremony.
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 coordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council in association with Emirates Racing Authority, IFAHR and Emirates Arabian Horse Society, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs , the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare with Arabtec Holding PJSC as the Official Partner and Emirates airline as the official carriers and sponsored by Invest AD, Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), National Archives, Al Rashid Investment, 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 2014, Dr. Nader Saab Switzerland, Al Wathba Center, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Eastern Mangroves Suites-Abu Dhabi by Jannah, Abu Dhabi Sports Channel and Racing Post.