Saturday, February 27, 2010

UAE: Shaikh Hamdan clinches crown

February 28, 2010

THE UAE's Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum was the overall winner of the Giants Endurance Challenge held yesterday at Dubai Endurance City (ECN) in Seih Assalam.

Some of the best riders from Bahrain and the UAE competed in the deciding ride of the championship which was over 160km and also a qualifier for next year's World Endurance Games in Kentucky, the US.

It was the third and final round in the challenge which started in Abu Dhabi, then continued in Bahrain. The first three stages of yesterday's ride were hit by a desert storm, which forced the elimination of several riders.

Riding Dean, Shaikh Hamdan completed this six-stage ride on top in five hours, 59 minutes and 53 seconds with a 23.17km per second speed average.

Shaikh Hamdan, the Dubai Crown Prince, was followed by Fredrick Zobairi (6:14:05) of Spain in second place while Majed Al Jahori (6:14:12) of the UAE's Al Ain Stable came third.

Bahrain were spearheaded by three riders, led by Royal Endurance Team captain Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who pulled out during the third stage after his horse picked up an injury.

Other Bahraini participants were Bahrain Royal Equestrian and Endurance Federation president and captain of Al Khaldiya Stable Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who also withdrew in the fifth and penultimate stage due to similar circumstances.

Abdulhaq Qadoor (8:34:04), the most experienced rider among the Bahraini participants, was the only local entrant to complete the race in 14th place.

Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, was also out of the race in the fourth stage as his horse Sas Alexis suffered an injury.

It was, however, Shaikh Mohammed who started the ride in style, leading the riders at the end of the stage in one hour, eight minutes and 49 seconds. Not far behind was Jaume Punti Dachs (1:08:52), riding Au De, in second place and Shaikh Hamdan (1:09:58) third.

Shaikh Mohammed maintained his momentum in the second stage to keep his lead with a total ride time of 2:14:43. Dachs (2:16:24) also kept his second position while Shaikh Majed, brother of Shaikh Hamdan, (2:16:55) moved up to third.In the third stage, Shaikh Mohammed stayed third in 3:18:31 and ahead of Shaikh Hamdan (3:25:33) who climbed to second and ahead of third-placer Shaikh Majed (3:25:42).

Shaikh Hamdan took over the lead from Shaikh Mohammed at the end of the fourth stage with a total ride time of 4:38:43.

Mubarak Al Belooshi (4:41:54) improved on his standing to claim second place, then Shaikh Majid (4:47:08) came third.

Since then, Shaikh Hamdan never looked back as he remained on top in the fifth stage, which he completed in 5:24:50 and kept his rhythm in the six and final stage to win the title.

After yesterday's race, the top three riders were honoured at the prize-giving ceremony, which took place at the Dubai Endurance City.

The ceremony was attended by His Majesty King Hamad who presented the prizes to the winners in the presence of Shaikh Mohammed and other senior UAE equestrian federation officials.

Upon arrival, His Majesty was welcomed by Shaikh Mohammed, Shaikh Nasser, Shaikh Khalid, senior officials and race organisers.

On this occasion, His Majesty, Shaikh Nasser and Shaikh Khalid congratulated Shaikh Hamdan on his victory and wishing others success in future competitions.

His Majesty also hailed the efforts of the race organisers, noting that the championship has witnessed a strong brotherly competition between Bahraini and UAE riders, reflecting the strong ties bonding both countries.

Click HERE for photos by Osama Mohammed.

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