Wednesday, March 09, 2011

UAE riders dominate GCC women’s endurance

FROM OUR ABU DHABI BUREAU March 10, 2011

UAE’s Afra Khalifa Al Suwaidi from Al Reef Stables won the CEN 90-km endurance ride held as part of the second GCC Women’s Games at the Emirates International Endurance Village, Al Wathba in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

The ride was attended by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The six-day Games are being held under the patronage of Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, chairwoman of the UAE General of Women’s Union and Family Development Foundation.

The ride drew 53 riders from the GCC countries and participants were required to cover the distance divided into four phases of 30 kms, 24 kms, 20 kms and 16 kms.

The UAE also won team gold medal with Kuwait and Qatar taking the silver and bronze medal respectively.

Suwaidi, a student at the Higher College of Technology in Al Ain, riding 11-year-old gelding Webbs Creek Firefly, completed the ride with a time of three hours, five minutes and 5 1 seconds. Her average speed was 29.06 kmph.

Her compatriot Haya Mohammed Al Shanqiti on Lucien De Loube from Fazaa Endurance Team secured the second place having completed the ride in three hours five minutes and 57 seconds.

Sheikha Mahra Bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, daughter of Sheikh Mohammed also finished a creditable third with a time of 03.12.38.

The prize giving ceremony was attended by Taleb Dhaher Al Muhairi, secretary general of the Emirates Equestrian Federation, Noura Khalifa Al Suwaidi, head of the Higher Organising Committee of the Games Committee, Abdullah Al Qubaisi, director of communication at Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, Stephen Bowey of Invest AD, Lara Sawaya, director of Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival and managing director of Tasweeq.

“I have won races before but this is my first win of the season and it was a competent event as it drew a number of prominent riders from all over the GCC countries,” she said.

“My strategy was a slow start and reserves the energy for the final loop and I succeeded in it with a consistent ride. I am happy with Webbs Creek Firefly’ as the horse responded well,” said Suwaidi.

Adnan Sultan Al Nuaimi, director general of the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, said it was the first time endurance ride has been included in the GCC Women’s Games.