Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Shaikh Majid In UK Endurance triumph

Khaleej Times
From A Correspondent

26 July 2005

IN HEAVY rain Shaikh Majid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum won the FEI 160-km Euston Park Endurance ride sponsored by Emirates International Endurance racing. He rode the French bred mare, Al Wadha, on who his brother Shaikh Hamdan had won the 160-km ride at Newmarket last year.

The 160-km course had been designed by James MacEwan and John Robertson who was also the FEI technical delegate.

The ride started and finished at Euston House whose parkland was the location of the central vet gate. The route was divided into six loops 35-37-35-19-17 and 19-km. The first and third legs of 35km were over the same route as were the fourth and last leg of 19km.

The courses ran over the farmland and woods of Euston Estate, courtesy of Lord and Lady Euston, and the tracks through Kings Forest courtesy of the Forestry Commission.

The ride officials included Ian Williams, Director of Endurance at the FEI. He praised both the organisation and the course. ?A well organised and well run event which produced a top class 160-km ride.

?More incredible is that their were no gates to open and no road work, an accomplishment rarely achieved by rides in the UK. The numbers might have been few but the competitive level was very high.?

At 5am on a cool summer morning 36 riders were flagged of by Maggie Maquire Vice-Chairman of Endurance GB, who also presented the awards. Two stalwarts of endurance in the UK, Lesley Dunn and Margaret McKiddie, led the first stage.

Dunn went on to finish third on Franzara and McKiddie?s horse, Bonnie Anne, was eliminated lame at the end of the penultimate stage.

From the second leg the UAE riders dominated the pace with Shaikh Hamdan, Shaikh Ahmed and Shaikh Majid leading.

They were closely followed by their father General Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and UAE Minister of Defence, and his wife Princess Haya bint Al Hussein.

In the later part of this leg Shaikh Mohammed retired his young horse Alidar whom he felt was not sound and Princess Haya also retired her favourite horse Al Aghar who was in top form.

The three brothers and Mohammed Ali Al Shafar had established a comfortable lead by the end of the third stage but at the end of the fourth Shaikh Hamdan retired his mount Horisk De Grazette on the advice of Shaikh Mohammed who considered the horse had done sufficient and performed very well. The heavy rain was persistent as the three UAE riders completed the final two legs. The grey gelding Mukatel ridden by Al Shafar tired over the final stage to cross the finish third but was eliminated lame at the final vetting.

The two brothers rode together over the final 19-km and crossed the finish simultaneously, Shaikh Majid just a length ahead. Shaikh Ahmed was riding a young horse, the French bred Jaysk, and he commented: ?I was not sure if he would succeed at this distance but he did, due to my father?s excellent training.?

Only five riders completed and Dr Fred Barralet, President of the Veterinary Commission, said: ?A lot of retirements at the midway stage were made by riders who felt that distance was adequate for their horse who could well be competing in the Europeans next month.? The heavy rain that started at midday also influenced some riders who retired before the finish. Katie Smith, the recent winner of Florac, described the going as very slippery and very difficult. The winning ride time was 8.32.01 an average of 18.98kph.

In fourth place was Spaniard Antoino Moreno who was riding the USA bred Jassas, owned by Shaikh Mohammed.

The last rider to finish was Susan Hawes from the UK more than three hours after the winner.

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