Saturday, March 17, 2007

Ahmad powers UAE to team silver in world junior event

UAE Gulf News
By M. Satya Narayan, Staff Reporter

Photo (Gulf News): Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum with his brother Shaikh Mayed Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum during the team event of the World Junior and Young Riders' Endurance Championships in Buenos Aires on Friday.

Buenos Aires: Uruguay confirmed their status as an emerging endurance powerhouse with a golden double while the UAE battled conditions to snatch the team silver and individual bronze at the World Junior and Young Riders' Endurance Championship, 2007 here on Friday.

Fifteen-year-old Manuela Antonaccio on Metiche was superb in victory, making it a start-to-finish affair to lead the Uruguayan double which was completed by the silver-medal winning Ignacio Ospitaleche on EO Dubut, Vanessa Von Zakrzewsky on Indio Pampa and Manuel Perez on ED Virka.

Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum, on Sadam, led the UAE to the silver while Shaikh Abdullah Bin Faisal Al Qasimi, on Kalkadoon Kampala, picked up the individual bronze with a stirring display in the final loop.

Shaikh Abdullah was followed home by his younger brother Shaikh Abdul Aziz Bin Faisal Al Qasimi on Castlebar Sobea, who also came up with a searing finish while Shaikh Ahmad along with the Sabousi brothers of Mohammad and Mansour were steady in completing the 120-km distance and finishing with the silver medal.

The Brazilians, who were also expected to dominate along with the Uruguayans, took the team silver.

While the Uruguayans made the most of familiar conditions to score a fluent win, the UAE youngsters were hit by some bad luck with a couple of falls and the confusing loops which were inter-twined at many places amidst poor signage.

The UAE were expecting a tough challenge and despite the Uruguayans setting the early pace, they kept the pressure on but lost quite a lot of valuable minutes through tumbles and losing their way.

Military base

The Campo De Mayo venue is at a military base about 40km from Buenos Aires. The five different loops criss-crossed each other at many places on the open Pampas plains.

Shaikh Ahmad missed one of the loops and when he tried to make a quick turn he fell off the horse and was dragged for about 30 metres. The saddle went one way and the saddle cloth the other and Shaikh Mayed stopped to help. While Shaikh Ahmad lost almost 15 minutes, Shaikh Mayed lost 7 minutes, though it did not matter as he was eliminated after the third stage.

That left the UAE with just three riders in the team competition and all three had to complete to stay in contention, while the Uruguayans had all four and they were in the lead.

Shaikh Abdullah also had a fall when he could not avoid a ditch and lost quite a few minutes, while Mohammad Ahmad Ali Al Subose was also unseated twice in the very first loop of 37km.

However, the UAE lads rallied to take the third, fourth and fifth places behind the Uruguayan duo and the 7th and 19th places to complete a rewarding day in their first-ever participation in South America.

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