December 12, 2010
BAHRAIN'S Royal Team suffered a disappointing day yesterday during the first-leg of the 2010 Giants Endurance Horse Ride Challenge in Abu Dhabi. Four of the six-member Bahraini team, including captain Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, had to pull out of the ride.
Shaikh Nasser, the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports' president and chief of the Bahrain Olympic Committee, was unable to complete the third stage after falling off his horse.
Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa, captain of Al Khaldiya Stables, was also forced to quit during the second stage of the ride as his horse was exhaustion.
Things got worse for the Royal Team as prominent riders Ghazi Al Dossary and Yousef Taher also pulled out at the same stage with their horses picking up injuries.
Bahrain's remaining riders - Shaikh Salman bin Saqer Al Khalifa, riding a UAE horse owned by Seeh Al Sallam Endurance Stable, and Ahmed Janahi, were 20th and 21st overall respectively.
Meanwhile, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Nad Al Sheba Stable's Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum steered Nayef to victory with a total ride time of four hours, 33 minutes and 12 seconds with an average speed of 25km per hour.
He was followed by compatriot Rashid Ali Younes (4:34:36) from Al Asifa Stables. Shaikh Hamdan's father and defending champion Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum (4:40:21), Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, clinched third place for Dubai Endurance Stables.
The first ride of the season, which took place at Emirates International Endurance Village in Al Wathba, saw the participation of top riders from Bahrain, the UAE, Oman, India and Spain among others.
It was over 120 kms, divided into five stages. In the first stage, which was over 32 kms, Younes finished first, ahead of Shaikh Juma Al Maktoum in second and Shaikh Mohammed bin Sultan Al Nahyan third.
Shaikh Nasser was the first Bahraini to finish the stage, followed by Shaikh Khalid, Shaikh Salman, Al Dossary, Taher and Janahi.
Younes maintained the lead after the second stage, which was over 28 kms. Shaikh Mohammed Al Nahyan improved on his overall placing by moving up to second while Khalifa Matar jumped to third.
Shaikh Hamdan showed great skill and experience to take over first place from Younes in the fifth and deciding stage before racing away to victory.
Shaikh Nasser, who finished second overall last season, said he was excited to compete with some of the region's top riders in this prestigious championship.
He congratulated Shaikh Hamdan and Shaikh Mohammed on winning podium places and highlighted the impressive organisation of the first-leg.
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