Thursday, November 17, 2005

Shaikh Mohammed among leading riders



By Amith Passela
17 November 2005

ABU DHABI ? The new UAE Equestrian Endurance season kicks off with today?s Al Wathba Cup here at the refurbished Emirates International Endurance Village at Al Wathba. Start time at 6.30am.


The curtain-raiser event includes the main Open race over 120-km, enjoying three-star status and has drawn 90 entries, and worked off alongside the main event is the 100km ride two-star for Juniors and Young Riders.

General Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Minister of Defence, and his wife Princess Haya bint Hussain are among the leading entries for the main race.

General Shaikh Mohammed?s sons, Shaikh Hamdan and Shaikh Ahmed, two of the established riders in the international stage, are among the favourites in the field that has drawn all the leading national and expatriate riders from all over the Emirates.

General Shaikh Mohammed is likely to be onboard Rafali (Stormy Petrel), an 11-year-old bay gelding whilst Princess Haya is set to ride Rabdaane, a 14-year-old chestnut gelding. Shaikh Hamdan will be astride seven-year-old grey gelding Kamel Armor.

The main race will be run over five loops of 32km, 30km, 24km, 18km and 16km, and the ride for Young Riders and Junior over four loops, 32km, 30km, 24km and 16km, and serves as the first of the two trials for the FEI World Endurance Championship for Junior and Young Riders in Bahrain on December 17. According to the Endurance Department of the UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation, the Emirates International Endurance Village will stage six races including the prestigious President?s Cup over 160km on February 16.

The Dubai Endurance City will stage seven rides and six races scheduled at the Boudthib Village in Abu Dhabi. The opening ride here at Al Wathba will be followed by the National Day Cup on December 15, Al Wathba trophy on January 19, the President?s Cup, the Emirates Challenge on March 9 and the Shaikh Rashid bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Challenge second round to complete the Abu Dhabi fixtures. The Dubai Endurance City will stage their first ride on December 24 and will hold two races each in the next three months.

The races are scheduled for December 8 and 22, the first round of the Shaikh Rashid bin Hamdan Challenge, a couple of races on January 12 and 26 (Shaikh Saeed bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Challenge), the Shaikh Maktoum bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Challenge on February 9 and the final fixture of the Dubai schedule on February 23. Boudthib kicks off with the 100km race for Junior and Young Riders on November 27 and will be the venue for two rides in the following week on December 4, both an open race over 100km and another over the same distance for Juniors and Young Riders.

They will host an open ride on January 5 and follows up with another combined ride for both, Junior and Young Riders and an open race on February 2. They begin March with a similar fixture and stage the final race of the season on March 23, another combined ride for both for Juniors and Young Riders and an Open race. All schedules are subject to change. The venue of the opening race at the Emirates International Endurance Village has been refurbished for the new season. The arrival and veterinary areas expanded, and a couple of spectator enclosures have been constructed on either side of the finishing area similar to the Dubai Endurance City, which hosted the World Endurance Championship

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