By M. Satya Narayan, Senior Reporter
Published: February 13, 2009, 22:58
Abu Dhabi: Some of the world's top riders will be seen in action today at the Al Wathba International Endurance Village, battling for a slice of the Dh 1.5 million in cash and four cars, all part of the bonanza on offer for the 10th running of the President's Cup.
Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and winner of last year's President's Cup leads a strong line-up of UAE riders, while an invited pack of 20 riders from around the world and the Dubai-based reigning World Endurance champion from Spain, Maria Alvarez Ponton, will be looking to halt the UAE domination.
The prestigious ride is supported by the Breeding Stables in Normandy, France owned by Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Presidential Affairs, Hydra Properties and Al Awani Enterprises.
Today's ride will be run over the championship distance of 160 kms and Shaikh Hamdan, who won last year on Kaysand Farrazah, will be riding Wadhnan in a bid to defend his win.
Shaikh Khalid Bin Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the 2007 winner, along with his elder brother Shaikh Hazza Bin Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan will also be in the fray.
Other UAE riders who are expected to be making a strong bid for victory are Al Reef riders Yousef Ahmad Al Beloushi and Omair Hussain Al Beloushi; Al Wathba Stables star campaigner, Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri, and Ali Mohammad Al Muhairi, who rides Sudan today hoping to add the President's Cup to his National Day Cup triumph earlier in the season.
Maria Alvarez Ponton, winner of the World Endurance Championship in Malaysia last year, partners EO Fawati, a horse on which she finished third here earlier this season, and should be there battling for top honours.
The invited riders include Phillippe Benoit, Caroline Denaye, Pascale Dietsch (from France); Australians Penny Toft, Kristie McGaffin and Meg Wade, Portugal's Rui Pereira and Joao Raposo; Italians Simona Garatti, Patrizia Giacchero and Cinzia Iacchelli; Germany's Belinda Hitzler, Stefanie Arnold and Rebecca Arnold, American riders Janice Worthington and John Crandell, Belgium's Maritza Pereira, Spain's Jon Zabalua Dorronsoro, Poland's Beata Dzikowska and Kamila Kart and Jordan's Farah Abunameh.
Over 70 riders are expected to take part in the ride which will be run in six stages of 34 kms, 32 kms, 30 kms, 24 kms, 24 kms and 16 kms and gets off to a mass start at 6 am.
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