Khaleej Times Online
Hisham Al Gizouli
5 April 2009
DUBAI — Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, partnered Garaman Mikado to land the Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Cup for the Fazaa Endurance Team at Seih Assalam Endurance City on Saturday.
The CEN 120km race was originally scheduled to take place on March 26 as part of the Dubai World Cup events but it was postponed due to the unstable weather conditions last month.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-president and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, retired from the race after Gate-3 for the welfare of his 18-year-old mare Yamama.
Shaikh Mohammed showed the way in the early stages of the grueling race. He was second behind pace setter Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri as the riders covered the first 36km loop, but reversed places with the Al Wathba representative by the end of the second loop. But Shaikh Mohammed decided to rest his mare after the third loop.
Shaikh Rashid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum also took part in the race astride Arabian gelding Dell Hama. Despite the light rain showers which hit the city last night and early morning, the 104 riders enjoyed the race. They said the conditions were extremely favourable for the horses.
“At least 15 horses were in with a chance to win the race. I have put my horse behind the early speed but not far away from the pace and Garaman Mikado kicked away from the pack when asked the question,” Shaikh Hamdan told reporters in a post-race conversation. “The race was competitive and the speed was relatively high. All riders have been preparing themselves for the test and leading stables like Al Wathba and Al Reef have sent their best horses. “I was only lucky to win the race, otherwise any of the other 15 top riders had equal chances to cross the finish line first,” he added.
The winner covered the distance in four hours, 20 minutes and 47 seconds at an average speed of 27,61 km/hour to finish 59 seconds ahead of runner-up Omair Hussain Al Baloushi astride Charlandre El Sharif for Al Reef Stables. Dutch rider Harmke Margrela took the third place honours for the stables of Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. In the CEN 102km Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum Challenge, veteran rider Abdul Aziz Al Redha rode his Arabian gelding Mystic Dream to victory for the Saeed Al Kamda Stables. The winner covered the distance in four hours 15 minutes and 58 seconds at an average speed of 20,58 km/hour to finish three minutes clear of runner-up Hussain Ali Al Marzoki aboard Anter Baby. Meanwhile, 52 riders lined up for honours, but more than half of the field have been eliminated, retired or disqualified. Most of eliminations were due to lameness or metabolic. Some of the riders did not start the race for various reasons. The big number of eliminations were attributed to the fact that all riders came from small stables who lack the experience of races during this season.
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