A steady rise up the rung climaxed in Fatma Mohamed Ibrahim notching a superb win in what turned out to be a thrilling Sheikh Zayed bin Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Junior & Young Riders› Cup race at Al Wathba on Saturday. In winning, Fatma landed a brilliant success for M7 Endurance Stables owned by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Riding 13yo Arab gelding Samoom, owned by M7 Endurance Stables, at an average speed of 27.95kph over the four loops, Fatma completed the ride with a time of 4 hours 17 minutes and 36 seconds. She was in sixth place going into the final 20km loop, but went flat out with Samoom to snatch the lead from her Emirati countryman, Saif Juma Mohammed Beljafla and win by a mere four seconds from another Emirati rider, Saeed Salem Al Muhairi.
Al Muhairi was second aboard SS Private Stables-owned Daighar with a time of 4:17:40, while Omani rider Ahmed Fadhil Al Balushi claimed third place when riding Al Nasr 2 Endurance Stables’ Antar Du Sauveterre after placing a further second adrift. The CEN 120km ride at Emirates International Endurance Village, which had been broken down into four phases was held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE and Minister of Presidential Affairs. Fatma started well and was placed 14th at the end of the 40km first loop, where the lead was with Rashed Ahmed Al Marri. She was 2:32s behind and juggled Samoom’s pace well to climb up three spots during the second loop over 35km.
Beljafla took over the lead from Al Marri at the end of the 25km third phase with Fatma now up to sixth after further tweaks. She was still 2:22s behind Beljafla, but had shrewdly conserved her Mohammed Al Subosi-schooled partner to go all out in the final loop of 20km. And stepping up her average riding speed by nearly 7kph, she breezed to the top, eventually winning by just four seconds from Al Muhairi, with Al Balushi a further second behind. Beljafla, who was the leader going into the final phase, placed fourth with a time of 4:18:10, while fifth place was filled by another Emirati rider, Mohammad Ahmad Al Ketbi, who clocked 4:23:04.
Adnan Sultan Al Nuaimi, the director general of Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club said: “We endeavour to organise races like these to give riders of the future a chance to learn and gain vital experience. “It was a good race that was contested at a moderate speed which is good for younger riders. The participants adhered to the rules and were committed to racing and they must be lauded for it.” Al Nuaimi revealed preparations for the CEI 3* 160km HH The President of the United Arab Emirates Endurance Cup on 9 February were on track and that efforts were being made to host top class events. “More than 200 horse and rider pairs will be participating in the event, including nearly 50 riders that will be flying in from the Americas and Europe, so it’s going to be a really big event and preparations are ongoing to make sure everything is perfect for the event,” he said. Al Nuaimi and Lara Sawaya, the executive director of the Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival were present at the prize giving ceremony.