Whoever says practice makes perfect hasn’t met Haya Mohammed Al Shanqiti, the winner of last week’s HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Endurance Cup ride for Private Owners at Al Wathba. Al Shanqiti started riding in endurance events nearly ten years ago but had never won before. She had placed well in the past, but success had always eluded her. Five years ago, after deciding to move to the UK for further studies, she decided to give riding a break. But what a triumphant return it turned out to be for the Emirati after she was handed the reins of the Enjaz Private Stables-owned and Mohammed Saeed Al Neyadi-schooled JC Embrujado.
“This is my first ride in five years because of full-time studies and I could not be happier with the result,” said Al Shanqiti, who went to the UK to earn a degree in renewable energy and nuclear physics. I wonder if Al Shanqiti had indeed used any of her classroom learning over the 100km distance of the endurance course at Emirates International Endurance Village in Al Wathba, as her ride was near flawless. The pair were dominant as they rode at an average speed of 26.91kph over the four loops to record a time of 3 hours, 42 minutes and 58 seconds. Al Shanqiti placed second at the end of the first phase and reducing her speed dropped one spot to third as she bid to ride within preset conditions.
She remained rooted to third going into the fourth and final phase, where she increased her riding speed aboard JC Embrujado, who responded as he galloped at a pacy 30.47kph compared to the previous stage speed of 24.9kph. That proved more than enough as her timing was nearly four and a half minutes better than second placed Frenchwoman Tiffany Nicolas, who was home aboard the Bin Ham Stables-owned Akram De Flauzins, with a time of 3:47:25. Nicolas had to battle Maria Santina Zunino for second position, with the Argentine in the end settling for third, a second off the pace of the French rider. Zunino’s time aboard Al Hareth Stables’ Azzam was 3:47:26, while Spain’s Paola Noreiga Gutierrez turned up a distant fourth on the back of Mytia Du Cavallon, owned by Bin Ham Stables, with a time of 3:56:40.
Finishing fifth was Catalina Bastons of Argentina, who rode Al Ghandi Stables’ Thajh home in a time of 3:56:41. Layla Abdulaziz Al Redha was the only other Emirati rider in the top ten as she settled in at ninth, when riding Al Kamda Stables’ HM Esperado. But the day belonged to Al Shanqiti, who thought she had hung up her riding gear for good when she left to study in the UK. “I went to study in Britain because I wanted to devote my time to studying and get away from horses,” Al Shanqiti explained. “Then after returning here this race came my way and I ended up winning. I am really happy to have won this. It is a historic achievement for me. “It was a really tough battle out there over all the four stages and none of the riders were ready to give up anything.
I did whatever was asked of me and lay low in the first three stages which allowed me to really increase my pace over the last phase.” JC Embrujado’s trainer Al Neyadi added: “This is a great achievement at the start of the season for Enjaz Stables and it is a great motivation for us to try and do better during the course of the season.” Lara Sawaya, the executive director of HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, thanked HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak for her continuous support to women in all fields. Sawaya also thanked HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE and Minister of Presidential Affairs, for his support towards the event.
Adnan Sultan Al Nuaimi, the director general of Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, was also present. Running alongside the Ladies Endurance Cup was the FEI CEI* 80km ride, which was won by Mohammed Juma Al Muhairi. Riding Dubawi Stable 2's Bobang Al Andalus, Al Muhairi headed an all-UAE podium that saw Asma Khalid Al Kassim and Fatma Jassem Al Marri fill in at second and third respectively.
Rider Horse Owner/Stables Time
1. Haya Mohd Al Shanqiti JC Embrujado Enjaz Pvt. Stables 3:42:58
2. Tiffany Nicolas Akram De Flauzins Bin Ham Pvt. Stables 3:47:25
3. Maria Santina Zunino Azzam Al Hareth Pvt. Stables 3:47:26
4. Paola Noreiga Gutierrez Mytia Du Cavallon Bin Ham Pvt. Stables 3:56:40
5. Catalina Bastons Thajh Al Ghandi Pvt. Stables 3:56:41