BARELY A WEEK after their patron HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum turned in a winning performance to win Saudi Arabia’s prestigious CEI 2* 120km The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup, riders from F3 Stables emulated similar results to claim a clean sweep of the Al Fahidi Endurance Cup podium. Leading that F3 Stables’ 1-2-3 was Abdulla Ghanim Al Marri, who won the 120km ride four phase affair at Dubai International Endurance City aboard Beachcomber Spiderman. The pair went about their business at an average speed of 27.47kph and completed the ride in a time of 4 hours 22 minutes and 5 seconds, winning by fractions of a second from Saeed Ahmad Al Harbi, who rode Aspenview Amir across the finish in the same time.
In third place, also flying the flag for F3 Stables, was Zayed Ahmad Al Marri on Valinor Park Gadras, the pair crossing the line a further nine seconds adrift in 4:22:14. Al Marri began with the sixth best time after the 40km first phase and was 4m40s behind his F3 Stables’ teammate Hamdan Ahmed, who held the lead aboard Castlebar Topgear with the best time of 1:22:56. Hamdan dominated over the second loop spanning 35km but was disqualified by a Ground Jury decision at Gate 2. Al Marri had worked his way up to second on the leaderboard, but if he thought his job would be any easier with Hamdan gone, he was wrong as the third loop over 27km produced another leader in the form of M7 Endurance Stables’ rider horse pair of Saif Juma Mohammed Beljafla and Arcaos De Gion who took over the standings with a time of 3:50:29.
In a bid to save a bit in the tank for a push in the final 18km loop, Al Marri had restrained his 14yo gelding, the pair dropping speed from 27.43kph to 24.1kph. That moved Al Marri back two spots to fourth, but he was just 24s behind Beljafla going into the final phase and, with enough petrol left on Beachcomber Spiderman, he was able to let his mount run freely to come home only fractions of a second ahead of Al Harbi who did well to work his way from 28th to 14th to second over the course of the last three loops having started in 17th. Zayed worked his way up from tenth to fifth to sixth and eventually placed third making it an all F3 Stables podium. Finishing fourth and fifth were Saif Ahmed Al Mazrouei and Saeed Sultan Shames Al Maamri respectively.
Both riders represented MRM Stables, with Al Mazrouei riding Prince home in 4:22:19 and Al Maamri completing the ride aboard Magic Glenn Tamar in a time of 4:23:03. Mohammed Issa Al Adhab, the general manager of Dubai Equestrian Club, and Dr Ghanem Al Hajri, the secretary general of the UAE Equestrian & Racing Federation, awarded the winners their prizes. Al Marri dedicated the win to stable patron HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum and credited his horse Beachcomber Spiderman for the crucial role played by him in securing victory in the final stage by the narrowest of margins. “Beachcomber deserves all of the plaudits and he is such a strong horse, he is the one who deserves all the appreciation. He is a distinguished horse,” Al Marri said.