Riders from F3 Stables, Mohammed Matar Rashed Al Mazrooei and Amy Louise McAuley held hands as they crossed the line bringing glory to the equine operation of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai. Both riders clocked 4 hours 25 minutes and 21 seconds in the CEN 120km Al Marmoom Endurance Cup, but Emirati Al Mazrooei was adjudged the winner with Ireland’s McAuley happily settling for second place. Al Mazrooei rode hard and asked a lot from his 11yo grey mare Samsara TE, who duly obliged pandering to every nudge to pick up the pace when needed.
He needed to really be calculative with his ride as he ended the first 40km phase 18th on the leaderboard. However, he kept at it and after increasing his riding pace from 26.62kph to 27.48kph, he found himself less than a minute behind leader McAuley, aboard Moondarra Maher who had climbed up one place and occupied the summit. McAuley had replaced another F3 Stable rider Abdulla Ghanim Al Marri, who had slipped to 19th as he tried to control the heart rate of his horse Shardell Sirus. Al Marri was eliminated at the end of the second phase, but McAuley was very much in control and kept the lead at the end of the third phase spanning 27km.
Her time over the first three phases was 3:53:03, while Saif Ahmed Mohammed of MRM Stables in second place trailed her by 37 seconds. Al Mazrooei was a further second behind, but in a good position from which to attack. And with his horse in good shape going into the final 18km loop, the Emirati increased his riding speed drastically from 24.14kph to 34.12kph. McAuley did the same but in the end both riders finished with the same time of 4:25:21. Third placed Saif Mohammed Al Mazrouei, riding Perzan, was a further two minutes and 41 seconds behind in 4:28:03. Nad Al Sheba Endurance Stables’ Munther Ahmed Al Baloushi finished fourth on the back of Alhambra Latiffe with a time of 4:29:12, while Mansour Saeed Mohammed Al Faresi, also riding for MRM Stables, finished fifth aboard Magic Glenn Tayla with a time of 4:36:18. It was Al Mazrooei’s first success in Dubai and the youngster as expected was thrilled.
“I am really happy to have won here. It was a very tough ride with a lot of good riders from the Emirates participating in it, but I knew we had a chance,” said Al Mazrooei, who is no stranger to winning in Abu Dhabi. He added that a massive team effort led to him winning the top prize. “It was a great effort from the entire team and moreover from the horse Samsara, who definitely made a big difference as she kept on going and doing all that was asked of her. I couldn’t have asked for more from her, she gave me her everything,” Al Mazrooei said. “The race wasn’t contested at a very high pace, but it was very technical and things changed completely in the final phase where the speed was a bit higher than in the previous three loops and the competition tough as ever.
“I am very happy that the leaders of the UAE give us these opportunities to compete at events which are some of the best in the world. Endurance is an ancient sport and this a great opportunity that we have to experience and compete in it.”