Gulf Daily News
KUWAIT'S Abdulla Al Matraqa, astride Petrol, raced to victory in the Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Open Endurance Horseride Championship held yesterday in Kuwait.
Riding for Al Matraqa Stable, the overall winner finished the 120-km race in six hours, 17 minutes and four seconds.
He was followed by Bahrain's Royal Endurance Team riders Shereen Fayez (6:38:25) on Outlaw, Mohammed Al Thawadi (6:39:53) and Abdulrahman Al Saad (6:40:00) in second, third and fourth places respectively.
More than 100 riders from Kuwait, Bahrain and other GCC countries competed in the championship which took place at Kabad desert located in the southwest of Kuwait as part of Kuwait's National Day celebrations.
The race, with a total prize money of $50,000, was divided into five stages -the first two stages of 30 kms, 25 kms for the third, 20 kms for the fourth and 15 kms for the fifth.
The prize included $10,000 for the overall champion, $9,000 for second place and $8,000 for third.
Twelve Bahrainis took part in the event led by Bahrain Royal Equestrian and Endurance Federation (Breef) president and captain of Bahrain's Royal Endurance Team Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
Shaikh Nasser, however, was unable to complete the race as he was eliminated in the fourth stage. Breef first vice-president Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa was also out of the race, falling out in the third stage.
The remaining seven Bahrainis were Yousif Taher, Jaffer Mirza, Ahmed Abdulla, Abdulhaq Qadori, Ahmed Abdulsamad, Raed Mahmood and Fahad Ismail.
The Kuwaitis took the top three positions in the first two stages. In the third stage, Shaikh Nasser moved up to second place behind Kuwait's Turki Al Ouni who came first and ahead of third Al Matraqa.
But Al Matraqa put up a good show in the fourth stage and moved to the top. He was followed by Al Saad in second place and Fayez third.
Al Matraqa maintained his lead in the fifth and final stage to secure a well-earned victory.
There was also an 80-km qualifier, a warm-up race for inexperienced riders.
It was won by Abdulaziz Al Anazi of Kuwait's Nawad Abu Shaiba Stable who finished ahead of two other Kuwaiti riders Thamer Ahmed of Thamer Ahmed Stable and Mamdooh Stable rider Mamdooh Muneef who were second and respectively.
The races were witnessed by Bahrain's Southern Governor Shaikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa while Breef general secretary Ghalib Al Alawi presented the trophies to the winners at a prize-giving ceremony.
Shaikh Nasser said he enjoyed the race and had fond memories of the same race in 2004 when they claimed top positions.
Shaikh Nasser added that this race was a useful experience for his team who are gearing up for the third and final round of the Endurance Horseride Grand Prix scheduled for February 28 in Dubai.
After two rounds, Shaikh Nasser is holding third place overall with 140 points, just 10 behind UAE riders Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Shaikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan who share the lead.