EMIRATI RIDER Sultan Mohammed Alawani kept his temperament and showed great maturity en route to a very narrow success in the Sheikh Zayed bin Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Junior and Young Riders Endurance Cup at Al Wathba on Saturday.
It was a first career success for the F3 Stables’ rider, who won the CEN 120km four loop ride with a time of four hours 10 minutes and 52 seconds on the back of the Ali Ghanim Mohammed Al Marri-schooledEl Nize Black Beauty, a horse that had finished third in this event last year.
Alawani and El Nize Black Beauty went about their business at an average speed of 28.70kph and at the finish were two seconds ahead of second placed and far more experienced Rashed Saeed Malhoof, who rode Waterlea Sikorsky, trained by Mohammed Ahmad Al Subosi for M7 Stables, across the finish in a time of 4:10:54.
Al Wathba Stables’ Abdulla Ali Al Jahoori ensured an all Emirati podium after taking third on the back of the Majed Khalfan Al Jahoori-conditioned 14yo mare EO Raghd with a time of 4:10:58. The day started with Jumeirah Stables’ Chilean rider Consuelo Andrea Marchant Cardenas posting the fastest time over the 40km first loop on Gacela 50.
Alawani and his 11yo South African-bred mount, meanwhile, were 20th, :1:36 behind. The lead changed hands over the second loop of 35km with Khalfan Juma Mohammed Beljafla taking over on the back of the MRM Stables-owned Avenir La Majorie and Cardenas dropping to third. Despite lowering his riding speed, Alawani was able to climb up seven spots and into 13th halfway into the ride.
Cardenas wasn’t finished and stepped up to reclaim the summit at the end of the third loop over 25km, as Beljafla returned to second. Alawani on the other hand continued to make consistent improvement and was now sixth, but the gap in terms of timing had widened to :2:56.
Still with every chance of victory in sight and with plenty of resolve and reserve left in the tank, Alawani lay down the gauntlet before El Nize Black Beauty and the gelding responded, running well within parameters during the 20km final loop. He picked up the pace from 27.44kph previously to 31.63kph and ran home two seconds quicker than Malhoof and Waterlea Sikorsky.
Malhoof started the day sixth and moved to fourth over the second and third loops before finishing the runner-up, while third placed Al Jahoori moved forward from 12th to sixth and fifth. Khalfan Juma Mohammed Beljafla riding MRM Stables’ Avenir La Majorie finished fourth with a time of 4:17:58, while Spaniard Bruna Pujols Aumatell placed fifth on the back of the M7 2 Stables-owned SW Dune with a time of 4:20:09.
Meanwhile, Cardenas, despite having to lower his riding speed considerably over the final loop, managed to finish ninth. Out of a total of 100 starters only 38 rider horse pairs managed to complete the ride hosted by Emirates International Endurance Village in Al Wathba.