Gulf Daily News
Sunday, January 10, 2010
BAHRAIN'S Royal Endurance Team captain Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa and UAE Prime Minister and Vice-President, and Dubai Ruler Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum yesterday shared the top place in the second round of the Giants Endurance Challenge at the Bahrain International Endurance Village in Sakhir.
With His Majesty King Hamad watching from the sidelines, Shaikh Nasser and Shaikh Mohammed rode side by side - with the Bahrain and UAE flags held high - in the gruelling 120-kilometre, five-stage race which was sponsored by Unicorn Investment Bank.
The joint-winners were a class apart to the rest of the field. They clocked identical times of four hours 57 minutes and 40 seconds, completing the event nearly 10 minutes ahead of their closest challengers.
Shaikh Nasser, riding Fabio, rallied from ninth place at the end of the first stage to take the lead by the conclusion of the fourth. At the same point, Shaikh Mohammed was behind him, just seven seconds adrift.
Riding SAS Alexis, Shaikh Mohammed powered ahead and managed to close the gap. Shaikh Mohammed and Shaikh Nasser eventually crossed the finish line together.
Shaikh Nasser had a top average speed of 24.74kph while Shaikh Mohammed, who was consistently among the leading three from the very start, had a best average speed of 24.88kph.
Shaikh Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, another leading participant from the UAE, finished third. Riding Star Dancer of Glendu, Shaikh Majid finished in 5:09:50.
Horacio Ferjancic Diaz and Ali Salman Al Sabri, both representing the UAE, came in fourth and fifth respectively.
Diaz, riding Eliska du Vialaret, had a total ride time of 5:25:00, while Al Sabri, on Madji du Coroux, finished in 5:33:08.
Royal Endurance Team rider Jean Philippe Frances on Liqourice came in sixth in 5:37:14. He was followed by Jaume Punti Dachs, one of several Spanish riders competing in the event, in 5:37:18.
Abdulhak Kaddouri was the second-best Bahraini taking eighth place overall. Riding Currowan and representing the Royal Endurance Team, Kaddouri finished in 5:49:25.
Rashed Mohammed Ali Abbar of the UAE came ninth in 5:50:11, and Bahrain's Yousef Taher rounded out the top 10 in 5:57:41.
Only four more among 60 riders who took part finished the race. Mohammed Abdullatif Al Omair of Saudi Arabia was 11th overall, Abdulla Hassan Al Doseri of Bahrain 12th, and Hashim Moosa Al Baloushi and Fuad Abdulla, both of the UAE, 13th and 14th.
Bahrain Royal Equestrian and Endurance Federation president Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa also took part yesterday but did not feature among the top finishers.
Following the event, His Majesty King Hamad presented the winners their with respective awards. Among others who were present yesterday at the race venue was Southern Governor Shaikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who flagged off the race at 7am, and Dubai Crown Prince Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
The third and final round of the Giants Endurance Challenge will be held in Dubai in the last week of this month. The points accumulated over the three rounds will decide the series' overall champion.
Click HERE for Photos by Osama Mohammed