September 11 2011
SHAIKH Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa finished a strong 12th yesterday in leading Bahrain's Royal Endurance Team in the 160-kilometre FEI Open European Championship, held in Florac, France. Riding Nikel Kermorvan, Shaikh Nasser completed the gruelling six-stage ride in nine hours 32 minutes and 57 seconds.
He was well positioned for a spot in the top three at the end of the race's fourth leg, but then dropped back to 13th heading into the final stage before managing to move up another spot for his final classification.
Shaikh Nasser, who is the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports chairman and Bahrain Olympic Committee president, was the top Bahraini entrant to finish the race.
Bahrain Royal Equestrian and Endurance Federation president and Al Khalidiyah Stables leader Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa was also enjoying a fine performance until he was forced to withdraw after stage five due to an injury to his horse R P Sebastopol.
Shaikh Khalid was in the competition for close to nine hours, and he was doing well to maintain a place in the top eight. He was within striking distance of a podium finish before needing to pull out.
Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri from the UAE emerged as the champion. Riding Kalifa, he put on an unbeatable ride, leading from the start to the finish and then completing the event with a total time of 8:38:10.
Spaniard Maria Alvarez Ponton on Nobby followed Al Jahouri's every move. Alvarez was in second place throughout, and she finished as the runner-up in 8:45:05.
Jassim Mohammed Al Maadhadi of Qatar, riding Mazayha, came third overall in 8:45:52. His fine showing made it two GCC riders on the podium in Florac.
Sabrina Arnold of Germany, riding Beau Ox, claimed fourth place overall in 8:45:53, Qatar's Faleh Nasser Bughenaim on Leonardo was fifth in 8:50:26 and Pierre Fleury of France, on Kergof, rounded out the top six in 8:53:14.
Amongst Bahrain's other riders in the race, Ahmed Abdulla Al Hazza, on Basic Instinct, came 15th after finishing the race in 9:54:43. He was the second-best of the Royal Team after only Shaikh Nasser.
Ahmed Jaffar Abdulrahim, on Ryhorn Marachaco, claimed 22nd, registering a total ride time of 10:28:04.
Like Shaikh Khalid, Bahrain's Abdulrahman Al Saad on Marduk had to withdraw from the race after five stages.
He was already in action for nearly 11 hours before being forced to pull out.
Yesterday's ride, which flagged off at 5.30am Bahrain time, featured 84 of the world's best riders hailing from a record 18 nations. The event was sponsored by Bahrain's Royal Endurance Team.
The race ran through the mountainous region of the CŽzannes National Park in Central Southern France.
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