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Double joy for battling Ponton in Sheikh Mansour endurance series

15/06/2017
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Two days, two trophies: Spain’s Maria Alvarez Ponton could not contain her joy after clinching what was a scintillating double during the Abu Dhabi-Madrid-Brussels series of the HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival in Madrid, Spain, last month. Having won the FEI 3-star 160km ride a day earlier, Ponton claimed her second success in as many days when she nailed the 2-star FEI 120km Ladies Endurance Cup aboard JM Bucefala. Both events were held at the Carmara Esteruelas suburb in Madrid. Maria completed the 120km ride in 5 hours 34 minutes and 56 seconds, riding at an average speed of 22.03kph, winning comprehensively from Sylvia Libra, who rode at an average speed of 21.05kph and clocked 5:50:30.

Ana Maria Garcia was third with a timing of 6:32:03 after riding at an average speed of 18.82kph. In contrast, the 160km ride turned out to be a keenly contested affair with Ponton edging a number of her Spanish compatriots, who were looking to book their spots in the national team for the 2017 Grand Prix. Ponton finished as the winner after completing the five phase ride aboard Delif De La Nie in 7:34:30 riding at an average speed of 21.12kph. Finishing runner-up, 21 seconds later with an average riding speed of 21.10kph, was Angel Soy Col, who rode Sheitan A Gwervaen. A second later in third place was Anna Maria Tamerra on Girola De Quercus.

A thrilled Ponton said: “It was a tough challenge following the extensive hot and humid weather conditions, and the presence of strong local and European contenders made things even tougher.” The HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival supported three other rides in Madrid where Prince Bernat Casillas, Lucia Sobikova and Francesco Herrera Carmona were among the winners. Riding Pique JC, Carmona scalped the 80km 1-star ride with a timing of 3:50:53 at an average speed of 21.05kph. Jordi Lopez riding Jassa placed second in the three stage ride with a time of 3:55:47, while Maria Barguerro on Girasol did well to finish third despite injuring her knee and fingers.

Barguerro’s timing was 3:55:48. The 120km FEI 2-star King’s Cup was held alongside the Ladies 120km ride won by Ponton and Casillas did well to win the former aboard Ugolin De Parical. Casillas covered the 120km distance in 5:34:57 as he rode at an average speed of 22.03kph. Juan Carlos Panchame, aboard Americano, settled for second in 5:54:28 (20.82kph), while Javier Garcia Cuervo rode Tuno into third place, covering the trip in 5:59:02 at 20.55kph. The CEI Young and Juniors ride, also over 120km, was won by Slovakian rider Lucia Sobikova on Chester. Sobikova finished the ride in 6:07:33, followed by the Spanish pair of Laura Fernandez Pina and Maite Pradira Lido on Angelina and Game On respectively. Dr Hessa Al Otaiba, UAE ambassador to Spain, the Vatican and Andalus, along with Lara Sawaya, executive director of the festival, presented the prizes.

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