Gulf Daily News
ROYAL Endurance Team captain Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa and a group of Bahraini riders are set for a new challenge today, when the first round of the 120-km Endurance Horseride Grand Prix gets underway at 5am (Bahrain time) at the Emirates International Endurance Village, Al Wathba, in Abu Dhabi.
Top riders from Bahrain, the UAE, and other invited guests will line up in the first of a three-race series, being organised for the first time by the Bahrain Royal Endurance Federation (Breef) in co-operation with the UAE Equestrian Federation.
Riding Omsura Nasrohn, whom he steered to win the Opening Season Championship held last month, Shaikh Nasser will lead the Bahrainis' hopes in this prestigious event which is only open to riders of 75kg weight and above.
Shaikh Nasser, the Breef president, will be joined by the federation's first vice-president and captain of Al Khaldiya Stables Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
Other Bahraini riders in the fray are Shaikh Salman bin Saqer Al Khalifa, Abdulhaq Qadoori and Ghazi Al Dossary.
The Bahrainis will face a stern test in this race where they compete it out with the region's best riders, including those from the UAE.
Prominent riders from the UAE will be Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, his son Shaikh Hamdan and UAE's vice-president, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai besides Presidential Affairs Minister Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Meanwhile, Shaikh Nasser and members of the Bahraini riders underwent training yesterday at the race venue.
During their practice session, the Bahraini riders met with the UAE team members, including Shaikh Hamdan, who welcomed the Bahrainis and wished them the best of luck.
Both Shaikh Nasser and Shaikh Khalid were also present at the veterinary examination held yesterday to follow up the procedures and approve their participation in today's race.
This race, which coincides with the National Day Cup scheduled for the same day, will be divided into five stages.
The first stage will cover 32km, 30km for the second stage, 24km for third, 18km for the fourth and 16km for the fifth.
After this event, riders will then travel to Bahrain next month for the second round, to be held at the International Endurance Village in Sakhir on January 10 next year.
The third and final round of the series is scheduled for February 28 next year at Dubai International Endurance City in Seih Assalem.
The overall winner of the series will accumulate the highest number of points. The top 10 riders in each race of the series will gain points.
The organising committee earlier approved the points system for the series as the winner in each round will be awarded 100 points.
Eighty points will be given to second place, 70 for third place, 60 for fourth, 50 for fifth, 50 for sixth, 30 for seventh, 20 for eighth, 10 for ninth and five points for 10th.