Four different nationalities turned up among the top five in the Yas Private Owners Endurance Ride at the Emirates International Endurance Village at Al Wathba last week with the UAE, India, Oman and Uruguay all represented. And while the FEI CEI* 100km ride was won by the Emirates’ Abdulrahman Saeed Al Ghailani, Indian rider Veer Singh placed second with Oman’s Said Saleh Al Balushi and Uruguayan Walter Andres Rivero Hernandez filling in at third and fourth respectively. A second Emirati rider Mohammed Ali Al Marzooqi placed fifth overall in the four phase ride which witnessed just 26 of the total 87 starters finish. Riding Rakna Endurance Stables’ 9yo chestnut mare Maver Mistral, trained by Salem Obaid Al Khyeli, Al Ghailani rode consistently to seal a rather comfortable victory.
The pair recorded a time of 3 hours 52 minutes and 29 seconds, which was 12m 46s clear of the 4:05:15 recorded by Veer Singh, who rode the Al Bawasil Stables-owned Arcadian Park Merlin. Finishing a further 31s adrift in third place with a time of 4:05:46 was Oman’s Al Balushi, who rode Kekmadar for Al Darbi Endurance Stables. Al Ghailani started well and placed seventh at the end of the first phase spanning 40km, where his countryman Khalid Jumaa Salem Al Khatri seized the initiative aboard MAS Endurance Stables’ Castlebar Nato. Al Ghailani was 2m 23s off the pace set by Al Khatri and the latter widened the gap further during the 25km second phase.
Al Ghailani had climbed up three spots, but was now 5m and 30s adrift. Al Khatri and Castlebar Nato had breezed over the first two stages, but it turned out to be a case of throwing caution to the wind as he was forced to keep his horse’s vitals within limits and he could only do that by significantly reducing his riding speed. That allowed Al Ghailani a foot in the door and he kicked it open, snatching the lead from his compatriot and storming to the top over the 19km third stage where he was now leading Al Khatri by 35s. The latter was eliminated during the course of the fourth phase and with the rest of the field far behind, Al Ghailani merely had to ensure Maver Mistral’s signs were in check. In the end, it turned out to be some clever teamwork that enabled Al Ghailani to rake in success.
The Rakna Endurance Stables’ rider said: “It was a tough race with some really good horses and the fourth and final phase were toughest because it turned out to be a sprint to the finish. It was a nervous finish but I am thrilled to have won the title. “The coaching I received was really good and we rode to a good plan from the trainer Salem Obaid Al Khyeli. I rode well throughout and after a good start we were able to take up the lead and hold on to victory by the grace of God. It feels great.” Veer Singh did well to work his way up the rung, moving from 19th to 11th to ninth before finishing runner-up, while Al Balushi too climbed up consistently from 13th to tenth to sixth and eventually third.
Adnan Sultan Al Nuaimi, director general of Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, said: “The race was very tightly contested with speed and planning and a strong determination from the riders to win. “It’s nice to see so many private stables competing so fiercely with their best riders and horses. “These races always provide new insights and bring to the front new horses in a way that conforms to the vision of HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE and Minister of Presidential Affairs, who is very keen to encourage owners and motivates them to participate in endurance competitions, which further is a big boost to the sport .”