The work that goes on behind the scenes in winning an endurance event is as important as the decisions a rider must take while traversing the long riding distances. That’s why, as soon as trophy presentation formalities for the CEN 160km HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Cup were concluded Saturday at the Dubai International Endurance City in Marmoom, Salem Saeed Al Owaisi, the winner, heaped praise on HHSheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the Dubai Crown Prince and F3 Stables’ patron for whom he rode in with glory. Overwhelmed by what he called the greatest victory of his endurance riding career so far, Al Owaisi also thanked F3 Stables’ endurance conditioner Ali Ghanem Al Marri for providing him with the right horse in Castlebar Corsair aboard whom he could pace himself unhesitatingly as he took victory in 6 hours and 24 minutes having maintained an average riding speed of 25kph.
It was a second straight victory for F3 Stables, who won the event last year with Abdullah Ghanem Al Marri and Lockelea Starwood Comet. Al Owaisi won in the presence offboth race patrons Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Hamdan, the presence of the Dubai Ruler and Crown Prince making his victory all the more sweeter. “I am so happy to have won this HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Cup for F3 Stables,” Al Owaisi said. “This is the most valuable title of my life because the race bears the name of HH Sheikh Mohammed. The victory of F3 stables in the cup for the second time in a row is wonderful.” F3 Stables yet again showed great team effort with Al Owaisi executing the plan perfectly on the back of his 12yo Purebred Arabian during the course of the 160km ride that had been broken down into five phases.
He set the 25th best time over the first loop spanning 40km where Seeh Al Salam Endurance Stables’ Ahmed Al Nassiri came home fastest on the back of Amelia De Luc. Al Nassiri’s first phase time was 1:34:55, with Al Owaisi a further 3m58s behind. Al Owaisi climbed up two spots during the second loop over 35km as Dubawi Stables’ rider Fatma Jassem Al Marri took over on the back of Ulmeau Du Vrihou. He was now 1m11s behind but made good ground during the course of the third loop which also ran over 35km to move up to seventh. The summit at the end of the third loop saw Al Owaisi’s teammate Hamdan Ahmed Al Marri take over from Fatma Jassem. Al Owaisi was now 1m17s behind his fellow F3 Stables rider who was plying his trade on the back of Showman TE.
Al Owaisi was asked to further tweak his speed over the 32km fourth loop and he complied in a bid to keep his ride fresh for what is often considered a ‘sprint’ final phase. Fatma Jassem regained the lead at the end of the fourth phase and Al Owaisi at fifth was in a prime position to strike. All he needed to do was overcome a 1m5s deficit, but the ploy to save Castlebar Corsair worked, with Al Owaisi increasing his speed from 23.56kph to 34.6kph to fly to the front and take victory from fast closing M7 Endurance Stables’ Argentine rider Martina Spelanzon, who did well on the back of Muntasir and climbed up steadily from 44th to 30th to eighth and sixth over the course of the first four phases.
Spelanzon was 15s behind Al Owaisi and was clocked at 6:24:15, with third place going to UAE’s Saeed Ahmed Al Harbi, who rode F3 Stables’ Longrun Mikami home in a time of 6:25:19. He was followed home by F3 Stables’ pair of Abdullah Ghanim Al Marri and Bogador De Piboul, who were clocked at 6:26:47, while fifth place went to Fatma Jassem who stopped the clock at 6:30:49. Al Owaisi said: “The competition was very strong from all stables, especially M7 Stables, who are always the strongest competitors. This ride was run with new conditions where rider weights were concerned (a maximum of 60kg) and that made things even tougher. Al Owaisi added: “HH Sheikh Hamdan had the most prominent role in this victory, because he followed me throughout the race, and guided me in the important moments until I advanced to the front and maintained my position to achieve the most important title of my career.”
Al Owaisi’s last victory was gained in the CEI YJ 2** 120km Euston Park Ride in June 2018 and having sampled victory again, he doesn’t want the winning to stop. “I hope to continue winning titles over the next few months which will have many more races and I thank F3 Stables’ trainer Khalifa Ghanem for the confidence he gave me when he let me ride Castlebar Corsair, whose performance was amazing throughout the race,” Al Owaisi concluded. Mohammed Issa Al Adhab, director general of the Dubai Equestrian Club, extended sincere thanks to HH Sheikh Mohammed for gracing the occasion with his presence and his support for the festival, which has grown into one of the top events wordwide.
“Going up to the podium, and winning a ride in this festival is a great honour, but the riders and horses who reached the finish achieved a great victory by just completing the ride,” Al Adhab was quoted as saying in a press statement. “It was the strongest start to the new year and this is the highest ranking race in the region. The race is a model for the other big races that are held in the region. It reflects the level the sport of endurance riding has achieved in the UAE.”