Friday, December 09, 2022

Timeframe: The UAE's first, record-breaking international endurance horse race - Full Article

1998 World Endurance Championship in Dubai surpassed all that came before

Hareth Al Bustani Dec 09, 2022

On December 10, 1998, the UAE cemented its growing commitment to the sport of endurance horse racing in the most spectacular fashion — hosting the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) World Endurance Championship.

Centred on Ghantoot Racing Club, with 162 riders from 37 countries competing, the event set a Guinness World Record for the largest number of participants at an official world championship event.

The event was made all the more remarkable by how young the sport was in the UAE at the time — having only been introduced to the country by the UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, in 1992. However, it was a natural fit for a people who had, for millennia, cherished horse-riding not only as a sport and passion, but a way of life; with horses and camels not just a means of transport, but an extension of the rider.

The UAE’s first two endurance marathons, open to camels and horses, were held in January 1993 and March 1994 — with the first horse-only race, Al Asayl Endurance Race, setting the blueprint for things to come in December 1994. That year, Sheikh Zayed set up the Presidents Cup for Arabian horses, helping to raise the breed’s international profile in the years since...

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