A modicum of luck and an overall show of consistent riding saw F3 Stables’ rider Mohammed Ahmad Ghanim Al Marri snatch the honours in the feature ride of the Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Festival that concluded at Dubai International Endurance City last week. The Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Festival was run under the aegis of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, and the curtains fell on a week of festivities with Al Marri riding F3 S t a b les-owned Fagor to a s e n s a t i o n a l victory in the last of four loops of the CEN 1 1 9km ride. Al Marri and his 9yo chestnut gelding Fagor clocked 4 hours 5 minutes and 3 seconds after riding at an average speed of 29.14kph.
The rider and horse pairing were in a class of their own as they finished at the top of an all Emirates podium in an event that brought together rider and horse combinations from 35 countries. A total of 288 riders started out, with 109 passed at the end of the four stages. Al Marri came through in the end, but he and the rest of the riders had been locked in a tense battle with M7 Endurance Stables’ rider Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum, who d o m i n a t e d over the first three phases while riding Blakeridge Indigo. In fact, it was Sheikh Rashid’s elimination in the fourth and final phase over 18km that opened the door for Al Marri to sneak in. But as the old maxim goes, it turned out to be a case of hard work reaping appropriate dividends at DIEC where Al Marri and Fagor continued to plug away industriously.
In the end due to Sheikh Rashid’s and Blakeridge Indigo’s ouster due to an irregular gait, Al Marri and Fagor stepped up for the lion’s share of the plaudits. Al Marri started out at fourth after the first phase over 40km and moved up a spot over each loop, needing to just make up 2:13s from Sheikh Rashid after arriving at second with just the 18km final loop left. Fagor had plenty of gas in the tank and when asked to step up the pace in the last loop, he duly obliged, putting pressure on the rest of the field. F3 Stables accounted for second as well with Saeed Ahmad Jaber Al Harbi and Samsara TE clocking 4:07:19. In third place with a time of 4:07:24 were Al Barrari Stables’ pair of Hassan Salman Mohammed Al Sabri and Tuva Du Pesquier.
Al Marri was full of praise for Fagor and said he made a big difference. “The race was a hard one and it was hot as well all along when riding but we had a very good horse, who was in very good shape and so we were able to push him and he took everything,” Al Marri said. “This is a great honour for us to be winning a race dedicated to HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the Dubai Crown Prince. I dedicate this victory to him and it was an absolute honour to win a ride in which some of the top riders from around the world participated.” Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, divisional senior vice president of commercial operations of race sponsors Emirates Airline, said: “We are only too happy to be partnering with such a prestigious event as the Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Cup.
“We are very excited to be sponsoring this amazing race and Emirates has always been part of the horse racing scene here. We support the sport internationally and locally and we committed to be sponsors of this amazing race. “It was a very special day because HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum were both in attendance and that made it all the more exciting for the riders and the spectators. So we are very excited as well. “Events like these summarise our goals to be part of the top. As Emirates Airlines, part of our DNA is sport and that’s the reason why we sponsor the biggest and best horse race in the world, the Dubai World Cup, which is on 30 March this year.
“Emirates has been associated with the Dubai World Cup from the very beginning and it is the race that has made Dubai famous. You will see us there.” Mohammed Essa Al Adhab, the general manager of Dubai Racing Club, which organised the festival that ran from 11-16 March and included three other rides: Private Stables; Ladies; and the Yamamah Cup for Mares, was pleased with the smooth running of things. Al Adhab said the UAE’s success in organising and winning events has proved its all round ability as one of the top nations worldwide for the sport of endurance riding. Speaking after the presentation of the feature ride, Al Adhab said: “Today is the last installment of the Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Festival and with this result this year’s event draws to a close.
“The event had been organised very well and the cooperation of the riders from different nations helped in making it a successful event. Endurance events like these are a huge logistical operation and we have pulled them off successfully all of the time, which sends out a strong message that the sport is improving and going in the right direction in the UAE. “There were nearly 300 horses in the main event of the festival and over the course of the four championships that were part of it, we have hosted more than 1,200 horses, that is a sign of how important this event is and how it has grown over the 11 years since it was started. “It was a tough competition and riders from so many different countries speaking different languages participated and we are thankful for all of them and the scores of fans that attended the event. “As the season draws to a close we would like to extend our thanks to the other government departments that joined forces with us to make all of this possible.”