SMIRATI ENDURANCE riders snapped up all of the top prizes on offer at Toscana Endurance Lifestyle at San Rossore in Italy stamping their absolute domination on a sport they have made very much their own. It included the individual honours in the prized HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Festival event, the World Endurance Championship for Young Horses and the World Endurance Championship for Young & Junior Riders event, where the top five spots were won by UAE riders. Their supremacy in the Young & Juniors event also winning them the team gold there. Each of the events covered 120km and were broken down into four loops. While Saeed Salem Al Muhairi won the Young & Junior Riders event on the first day of the festival when riding Bingo De La Tour home in a time of 4 hours 46 minutes 13 seconds, it was Saeed Sultan Al Maamri’s time to shine aboard Andy on the second day in the HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Festival event. On the third and final day, Suhail Ali Rashed Al Ghailani made sure the rout was complete as he picked up the top honours in the World Endurance Championship Young Horse category when riding Kalia Des Cygnes to victory in 5:08:47.
Of the three, seemingly, it was Al Muhairi who had to battle the hardest and he was chased by his fellow countrymen all the way to the finish, with Shaheen Yayhya Al Mazrouei only a second behind aboard Keeshan D’Aillas in 4:16:14 and Saif Ahmed Ali Al Mazrouei a further second adrift on Perzan. Fares Ahmad Al Mansoori on Chouf Laajeb and Saif Juma Beljafla on Haleh completed the top five. Al Mansoori and Beljafla were placed first and second after the opening loop spanning 40km, with Al Muhairi sitting just six seconds off the pace. The latter reduced his pace during the 33km second loop and dropped to seventh, but remained just 1.39min behind Saif Al Mazrouei who had assumed command on the back of Perzan. Beljafla took over at the end of the third loop over 27km, even as Al Muhairi moved three places higher and to fourth.
Still 3.14min off the pace is not where Al Muhairi would have liked himself to be going into the 20km last loop and he picked up speed even as the others were forced to lower theirs to keep their mounts’ heart parameters in check. Al Muhairi’s ploy worked out just fine in the end with him winning the individual honours and the UAE clinching the team honours. The HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Festival ride, a CEI** event, witnessed MRM Stables’ rider Hamad Al Kaabi, riding Nabila, seize the initiative over the first two loops before handing the advantage to teammate Al Maamri. At the end of the third loop, Al Kaabi slipped to third and both he and his ride Nabila were subsequently eliminated, not venturing out for the fourth. On the other hand, once in front, Al Maamri did not look back and though it would finish quite tight with Spanish rider David Abad Guerra hot on his heels aboard Nadin Fay, the Emirati horseman kept his cool to win by a second with a time of 5:23:44.
Guerra clocked 5:23:45, while Portugal’s third placed Mariana Gomes Oliveira completed the ride a further two seconds in arrears on Jilguero II Ex Clavijo De Guad. Al Ghailani, riding M7 Stables’ Kalia Des Cygnes, dominated the Young Horse event from start to finish, staying on top all along to win by a better recovery rate ahead of Spain’s Gil Berenguer Carrera, who rode Lepanto De Guadarranque. Both riders clicked an identical 5:08:47 over the four loops with Kalia Des Cygnes returning a superior recovery time of 7.54min compared to Lepanto De Guadarranque’s 8.53min. French rider Melody Theolissat on the back of C’Pieraz Du Vialaret was third with a time of 5:24:27.