Riders from the UAE dominated for the second day running with Khalifa Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri and Mohammed Al Mazrooei winning their respective events in the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival-supported Italia Endurance Festival in Verona, Italy to add to Saturday’s double gold by the UAE ladies.
Fifteen year-old UAE schoolboy stunned his seniors when he edged past two other UAE riders in a close finish to win the 126-km HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Endurance Cup Open CEI Two Star ride.
The Al Ain schoolboy riding Vendaval was involved in a close battle with Saeed Al Khayari on Ostro Di Chia and Sheikh Hasher bin Mohammed Thani Al Maktoum on Cal Colonial.
With the narrow pathway amidst the fields making it difficult to overtake, Khalifa waited in third place for much of the final stage before he saw the gap when one of the front runners tired a bit and seized that opening to forge ahead and stave off Al Khayari to win the 126-km event by a narrow two seconds.
The 1-2-3 finish in the Open ride was followed by a similar 1-2-3 by the under-21 UAE riders in the 120-km HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Endurance Cup (Young and Junior riders) Two Star ride.
Mohammed Al Mazrooei on Khedji took 6 hrs 11 mins 27 secs to win the gold ahead of Mohammed Al Muhairi on Fair Plex (6:12.49) while Ali Ghanem Al Ali on Shakim in third with a timing of 6:12.50.
Finally it was left to Swedish girl Annelie Eriksson on Penelope Del Ma to prevent a clean sweep of the Italia Endurance Festival by the UAE riders when she won the 86-km HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Endurance Cup One Star ride.
Salem Hamad Al Kitbi on Orodemattaepadru and Ismail Mohammed Al Hosani on Boa Queda TB finished second and third adding two more medals to the UAE tally.
Adnan Sultan Al Nuaimi, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club did very well in the 120-km Open event to finish 5th while singer-rider Reem Shaban Al Hassan on Siperia finished 6th and also won the Best Conditioned Horse award in the Open category.
On Saturday the UAE were led by a dominant display by UAE’s Afra Khalifa Al Suwaidi on Rivergum Drifter for the individual gold while the UAE’s Aya Abdulla Redha on Quersick Niellans took the bronze. The Emirati girls established their supremacy both in the individual as well as the team categories as Alia Al Khafajy on Exclusiva finished sixth and the three riders totalled 16 hrs 18 mins and 26 seconds for the 120-km event to snatch the team gold ahead of Bahrain.
H.E. Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development congratulated the UAE lady riders for their team gold medal and also Afra for their success and also Afra Khalifa Al Suwaidi and Aya Abdulla Redha for their individual gold and bronze respectively.
HE Abdul Rahim Al Awadi from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with Bahrain’s Shura Council member HE Lulwa Awadhi and Ms Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival and Chairman of Ladies Racing at the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR) and Honorary President of Italia Endurance Festival and representatives of the Italia Endurance Festival participated in the prize distribution of all the four rides.
HE Abdul Rahim Al Awadi hailed the success of the UAE riders and also remarked that the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival was promoting both the sport as well as the UAE heritage.
Ms Lara Sawaya said, “The victory of UAE lady riders on Saturday is very significant as it is the first FEI ride for ladies and the team did very well to win the team gold as well as the individual gold and silver.”
“And on Sunday, young Khalifa Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri did the UAE proud as he led a 1-2-3 in the 120-km HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Endurance Cup Open CEI Two Star ride. The Young Riders’ event was also a clean sweep by UAE riders. The performance of the UAE riders is indeed an advance Ramadan gift to the UAE citizens,” Ms Sawaya added.
“The seven UAE team lady riders will now go to Slovakia next month where three of them – Afra Khalifa Al Suwaidi, Aya Abdulla Redha and Alia Al Khafajy – will compete in the World Endurance Championship for Young Horses,” she said.
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), 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.
The 126-km HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Endurance Cup OPEN CEI Two Star ride:
Khalifa Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri-UAE-(Vendaval) 5hrs 48 mins 51 secs;
Saeed Al Khayari-UAE-(Ostro Di Chia) 5:48.53;
Sheikh Hasher bin Mohd. Thani Al Maktoum (Cal Colonial) 5:48.54
The 126-km HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Endurance Cup (Young and Junior riders) Two Star ride:
Mohammed Al Mazrooei-UAE- (Khedji) 6 hrs 11 mins 27 secs;
Mohammed Al Muhairi-UAE-( Fair Plex) 6:12.49;
Ali Ghanem Al Ali-UAE-(Shakim) 6:12.50.
The 83-km HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Endurance Cup One Star ride:
Annelie Eriksson –Sweden-(Penelope Del Ma) 3:53.08;
Salem Hamad Al Kitbi –UAE-(Orodemattaepadru) 3:53.29;
Ismail Mohammed Al Hosani-UAE-(Boa Queda TB) 4:01.35.