Sunday, February 25, 2007

Al Beloushi retains superb form

photo: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Winner Yousuf Ahmad Al Beloushi finishes the white loop during the Shaikh Maktoum Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum 120km endurance ride.

By M. Satya Narayan, Staff Reporter

Dubai: Yousuf Ahmad Al Beloushi ended the Dubai Equestrian Club's endurance season the way he had started it - with a superb victory - and laid claim to being the top rider of the current season.

The Al Reef rider-cum-trainer came up with a scintillating final-stage (12km) riding performance on Cameo Zinniaa to push Spain's consistent Maria Mercedes Alvarez Ponton to second place in the Shaikh Maktoum Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum CEI three-star 120km endurance ride.

Yousuf, who had emerged as last season's third best rider, had started the season here at the Dubai International Endurance City with a win and yesterday won the last Open ride here to register his third triumph of the UAE season.

Terrific display

It was a terrific display by Yousuf as he trailed Maria by over 5 minutes, going into the final 12km. But Cameo Zinniaa, the 11-year-old chestnut mare which is trained by the rider himself, was in devastating form and nearly reached an average speed of 27kmph on the final loop to leave the Spanish rider well and truly beaten.

Omair Hussain Al Beloushi, riding Al Galahn, also a three-time winner of the season, and Abdullah Thani Bin Huzaim, riding Chupacbra, finished third and fourth, respectively.

"I was always confident of winning, though Maria was leading in the third and fourth stages," said Yousuf, who was third after 108km. "But Cameo Zinniaa proved she was a champion," said Yousuf.

Maria, the 30-year-old Spanish rider who is married to top endurance horse trainer Jaume Dachs, said she just could not do much against the winning pair. "They had too much power and I knew he would come strongly. But I am very happy with my display," said Maria.

Commenting on her success she said initially she was just riding the horses to prepare them, but now she was going all out and the results were showing.

Earlier, of the 86 riders who started, the top riders to make early exits were Shaikh Mayed Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum (Musical Gully Tambourine) after the second stage, Shaikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum in the second stage, Shaikh Saeed Bin Dalmook Bin Juma Al Maktoum in the third stage and Ali Mohammad Al Muhairi in the second stage.

Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance and Industry, attended the ride while Shaikh Maktoum Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum, along with DEC's Saeed Al Tayer, and Ali Mousa and UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation's Hussain Mohammad distributed the trophies.

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