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Al Mazrouei scalps Sheikh Mohammed Endurance Cup with a classy ride aboard Nopoli Del Ma

11/01/2018
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Watched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Saif Ahmed Mohammed Ali Al Mazrouei clinched one of the biggest events on the Emirates’ endurance calendar. The CEI 3-star HH Sheikh Mohammed Endurance Cup attracts a strong field of male and female riders from around the world year after year and this year’s event was no different with riders from far and wide assembling at Dubai International Endurance City.

However, riders from the Emirates ruled the roost with Al Mazrouei finding himself heading an Emirati top five finish, that included Abdulla Ghanim Al Marri and Saeed Mohammed Khalifa Al Mehairi finding themselves second and third respectively. Also attending the race were Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the Dubai International Marine Club Sheikh Mansour Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of Bahrain Olympic Committee Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Vice-President of the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) Sheikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, Director General of Dubai Protocol and Hospitality Department Khalifa Saeed Sulaiman, and Saeed Humaid Al Tayer Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Meydan Group.

During the course of the day, Sheikh Mohammed visited a photography exhibition that ran on the sidelines of the race, where the main attraction turned out to be a mural of the Dubai Ruler en route to his win in the 2012 FEI World Endurance Championship. The artwork was made out of nearly 3,200 photos of Sheikh Mohammed at various endurance events. Speaking on television, Sheikh Mohammed said: “The guests of the UAE as well as riders from the UAE were happy with this festival and this is our goal. We want everyone to participate and we hope to delight everyone.”

Riding for Sheikh Mohammed’s MRM Stables, Al Mazrouei judged things well over the course of the five loops that the ride had been broken down into before winning with a time of 6 hours 32 minutes and 20 seconds. He and Al Marri, riding F3 Stables’ Faraan, held hands as they crossed the finish, the latter clocking a timing that was a mere second adrift of the winner. Third placed Al Mehairi was a further 24 seconds back on the back of MRM Stables’ Nabi Du Cassou. In what turned out to be a long and thoroughly gruelling day in the Emirates’ sands, Al Mazrouei had sealed the ride by the end of the fourth loop and merely had to ensure he rode within parameters to claim victory.

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Emirati, who had placed 19th at the end of the first loop spanning 40km, where the Emirati lady rider Maitha Mohammed Al Qubaisi set the best course time aboard LT Dende. However, tpair were eliminated at the end of the 35km second phase after Maitha’s mount was deemed to have an irregular gait. It led to the lead passing on to India’s Ummed Singh aboard Lamhat. At that point, Al Mazrouei was 4 minutes and 19 seconds off the pace, but had moved up to seventh. The lead changed hands a third time at the end of the third phase, which was also spread out over 35km. Here, Mohammed Ahmad Al Marri, who eventually finished fourth, led by a second aboard LC Menta. Al Mazrouei was a second behind and in with a brilliant chance to take over as leader.

And he would do just that over the course of the 32km fourth phase, which saw him increase his riding speed marginally. He was now with the lead with previous leader Mohammed Ahmad Al Marri 53 seconds behind in second place. With Abdullah Al Marri shifting up several gears and increasing his average speed over the final 18km loop by nearly 13kmph aboard Faraan, Al Mazrouei did the same and eventually it proved just enough to secure victory as the pair held their hands high as they crossed the finish together, celebrating a big success for the UAE in one of the top competitions on the national endurance calendar.

Al Mehairi, riding MRM Stables’ Nabi Du Cassou, and Mohammed Al Marri, who placed third and fourth respectively clocked the same time of 6:32.45, while Ghanim Said Salem Al Owaisi, who was fifth aboard F3 Stables’ Tim Ami, stopped the clock at 6:33.23. MRM Stable star Nopoli Del Ma’s trainer Ismail Mohammed said: “Nopoli is a champion when it comes to winning endurance rides over 120km and today his crowning as a champion over 160km shows that he has continued to evolve as a top performer consistently. We hope the stable’s achievements continue in the future both locally and internationally.”

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