Success breeds confidence and having won Bahrain’s top endurance ride, Cecilia Garcia is setting her sights on making hay in the Dubai sunshine during next week’s Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Festival. One of the most prestigious events in the region, the Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Festival, which is held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, will be held at the Dubai International Endurance Centre from 11-16 March. In Bahrain last week, Uruguay’s Garcia won the CEI 3* 160km HRH King of Bahrain Cup, the feature event of the endurance festival at Sakhir in scintillating fashion with just two seconds keeping her ahead of UAE’s Salem Hamad Saeed Al Kitbi, who performed well in the presence of his team M7 Endurance Stables’ patron HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The HRH King of Bahrain Cup was held under the patronage of HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, who was present at the event along with HH Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the president of the Bahrain Olympic Committee. Garcia rode Victorious Team’s Safien at an average speed of 25.7kph and the pair were clocked at 6 hours 24 minutes 41 seconds. Second placed Emirati, Al Kitbi aboard M7 Endurance Stables’ Langasem Kwarter Bloom, was timed at 6:24:43, while in third place, a further second adrift, was Bahrain’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa on Tammam La Lizonne. “That’s one of the goals for the season, to ride in a prestigious race like the Dubai Crown Prince Cup. Nothing has been finalised yet, but I am looking to ride well in the event,” the Uruguayan rider said.
It was a brilliant performance that landed her the top prize in Bahrain as she led from start to finish with the top three spots unchanged over the course of the five phases. Speaking of her triumph in Bahrain, Garcia attributed the success to Safien, her 9yo bay horse, with whom she had won a CEI 2* 120km event at Sakhir in January. “He performed remarkably and we were able to steal victory with a superb run to the finish in the final moments of the race. He did it really well despite being in the company of such strong horses and that is a good sign,” Garcia added. “It’s a great honour to lift the King’s Cup and this is a culmination of the hard work put in by the entire team here at Victorious.
I cannot describe the joy I feel at winning this trophy for the team. “It was a tough race with some of the best riders from around the world assembling and it was fought fiercely until the final metres of the fifth and last stage. That shows what a prestigious event it is, none of the teams and riders were willing to let go of even a little throughout the race. That’s why this victory feels really special.” M7 Endurance Stables’ rider Al Kitbi, winner of last month’s CEI 2* 120km The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup at Al Ula in Saudi Arabia, was happy to have finished on the podium after a gruelling ride. He said: “The race was wonderful and riders from the Victorious Team surprised us really with their high class riding and their fighting spirit. They didn’t give up until the end.
“It was a top quality race with just seconds separating the top three riders as they went into the final phase and then a really close finish. It shows the importance of this race on the endurance circuit. “We congratulate Victorious Team on their success and as the visiting team, we at M7 Endurance Stables did a very good job of representing the UAE well by finishing second in the top competition and winning the titles in the Young and Junior Riders event and the Private Stables event, so it’s a great performance from the UAE.” The CEN 120km HM The King’s Cup Young and Junior Riders and equidistant Private Stables events were held on the sidelines of the main event and both were won by the UAE’s Saif Juma Mohammed Khamis Beljafla.
In the Private Stables event, Beljafla rode Mas Endurance Stables’ Didjicko at an average speed of 26.4kph to win with a time of 4:33:00, with second placed Indian rider Narayan Singh 58s adrift aboard Ali Nasser Sultan Al Yabhouni-owned La Soledad. In third place, a further second behind on the back of Al Kamda Endurance Stables’ Baraka Barak, was Beljafla’s Emirati compatriot Ahmad Saleh Mohammed Al Shehhi. The Young and Junior Riders event witnessed Beljafla winning aboard M7 Endurance Stables’ Bogdan Du Chigny. Second and third place went to Victorious Team’s Bahraini riders Ahmed Saleh Yusuf Al Noaimi and Dana Ali Albenghadeer aboard Afnan and Avel Du Parck respectively.