12 November 2010
Doha: Ellen Rapp, of La Motte, Iowa won the opening endurance race of the season held at the Qatar Endurance Village. In winning, Rapp became the first woman to ever win a race in Qatar, and is reportedly the first American to win a race in the Middle East since Valerie Kanavy won the World Championship in 1998.
Rapp rode SA Ireesh Tenor, an 8-year-old USA-bred Shagya Arabian, trained by her husband Jeremy Olson, head endurance trainer for the Al Shahania Stud, founded and owned by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani.
"We have been training him for three years now," Olson said. "He came from Sun Arab Shagyas in Verona, Kentucky. Breeder is Daunna Sellers. He is also a half brother to SA Belshazzar, (who was Ellen's second horse on the USA Team for the 2010 Kentucky WEC and he was also 1st alternate after Smokey came up lame), and SA Edashick, who was third and BC last year here in Qatar at our biggest race 'The Emir's Cup', a 120 km held here in March. Their sire, the Shagya Stallion 'Bayram' stands in Kentucky, and throws wonderfully talented endurance horses. We have had 8 of them and they are all great, with wonderful tempermants, huge bone and great feet and conformation."
Second place was Hamed Towaim Ali Al Marri, riding Catania de Palleres, a Portuguese-bred Anglo Arabian, also trained by Olson and owned by Al Shahania Stud.
79 horses from Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were entered in the 80-km race, which was held at night, due to the heat.
Olson reports: "Our speed the first 30-km loop was 24.8 km/h, and we arrived in 8th and 9th positions. Our speed the second 30-km loop was 25.6 km/h, and we arrived in 3rd and 4th positions. We left for the last loop in 2nd and 3rd position, 4 minutes behind the leader, but only 30 seconds ahead of 4th and 5th.
"It was a 5 horse race to the finish; the first 5 horses were within 2 minutes of each other with 7k to go! It was a very exciting race! Ellen won the race by 1 minute and 20 seconds ahead of my other horse Catania de Palleres, who was 4 minutes and 16 seconds ahead of the third place horse."
Rapp was thrilled with the win, which was full of a lot of 'Firsts'. "It was a great race on an amazing horse!" she said. "We have a lot of great horses at Al Shahania Stud, but I chose Ireesh because he and I share a special bond. Every time I get on this horse he never questions me on what we are doing, he is just eager to see what is next.
"The temperature of the day was perfect and we were not sure how Ireesh would handle the night race with the cars and headlights everywhere. He kept on crusing like he had been doing it his whole life. Truly inspiring this horse is!
"We accomplished a lot this race: Al Shahania Stud wins opening race in Qatar, I became the first female to win a race in Qatar, Ireesh was the first Shagya horse to win a race in Qatar, it was Ireesh's first race in Qatar and first win, and finally we entered two horses and they both completed and placed 1 and 2 healthy, happy, and sound....what a great night!
"I hope that we can keep up the good work at Al Shahania Stud with all of our other horses. The next race is on Christmas Day,"
- Merri Melde