TWO GRUELLING rides at Dubai International Endurance City last week saw Tahera Ibrahim Shahdadi and Saif Ahmed Mohammed Al Mazrouei turn up among the winners. Both riders won their 120km events in clinical fashion, with Shahdadi clinching success in the Hatta Endurance Cup on 5 February and Al Mazrouei striking in the Al Fahidi Endurance Cup.
In winning, Shahdadi put the powerful Al Kamda Endurance Stables on the podium as she put aside the rest of the field to win aboard Tonki Dee Boo Marley with a timing of 4 hours 19 minutes and 21 seconds, having gone about her business at an average speed of 27.76kph.
On the other hand, Al Mazrouei won a very tight renewal of the Al Fahidi Endurance Cup for MRM Stables on the back of Belik Al Mounira, the pair averaging 27.95kph over the four phase ride to finish with a time of 4:17:37. It was a third career success for Shahdadi and only her second title since winning the CEN 119km Commemoration Day Cup for Private Stables in November 2019.
She and her 9yo Anglo Arab mare Tonki Dee Boo Marley, trained by Mansour Ibrahim Ahmed, made a solid start when they started the day in third after the 40km first loop, trailing Al Azem Stables’ leading pair of Saeed Ali Al Subousi and Beduina Christiana, who clocked the best time of 1:19:10 over the distance. Shahdadi trailed by :1:16.
Al Subousi was eliminated at the end of the second loop over 35km after his mount was deemed to have an irregular gait which allowed SS Stables’ pairing of Suhail Al Ghailani and Hannad to take over the summit. Al Ghailani was second behind Al Subousi, but he too failed to hold on to the summit during the course of the 25km third loop as he bid to keep his horse’s vitals between specified parameters.
Shahdadi and her team saw their chance and challenged during the third loop and as Al Ghailani reduced his riding speed drastically, from 26.99kph in the second to 21.23kph, the former confidently tread along the gateway to force a change of leadership for the second time.
Al Ghailani was out of the reckoning as he slipped to eighth before eventually finishing 12th. Uruguayan rider Federico Ferber who rode HC Asalah for Al Ain Stables had all along kept tabs on the leaders and quietly climbed into second spot going into the final 20km loop.
He was :2:13 behind Shahdadi and was waiting for her to slip. That put pressure on Shahdadi, but she held her nerve admirably and though the pack chased hard she did just enough to win by a tidy :2:57 from SS-2 Stables’ Mansour Saeed Mohammed Al Faresi, who clocked 4:22:18 on the back of Samed.
Finishing third was Shahdadi’s Al Kamda Endurance Stables teammate Ahmad Saleh Al Shehhi and Sanniesguns Mawazzan. The action hotted up further the next day in the Al Fahidi Endurance Cup where Al Mazrouei triumphed on MRM Stables’ Ismail Mohammad Al Jeziri-trained Belik Al Mounira with a time of 4:17:37.
Finishing second, a mere two seconds behind, was M72 Endurance Stables’ Saeed Ahmad Al Shamsi on Ainhoa Lejour, while fractions of a second back in third place were F3 Stables’ pairing of Rashid Humaid Al Ghandi on Vandal Du Besssey. Al Mazrouei and his 12yo gelding posted the 11th best time over the first loop, where Khalifa Yousef Ahmed on Nad Al Sheba Endurance Stables’ Bamba Blue were the fastest with a time of 1:21:33.
Al Mazrouei and his partner were :1:12 back, but Ahmed would part with his hold on the summit which was then taken over by Seeh Al Salam’s Mohammed Suhail Al Ketbi on Belmont. Al Ketbi held on to top spot over the third loop as well, with Ahmed slipping out of contention on his elimination and Al Mazrouei on the other hand upping himself up steadily.
The latter was third going into the final loop over 20km and he trailed leader Al Ketbi by :1:11. All that would change over the final loop which often sees rider-horse pairs locked in a sprint to the finish. And with Al Mazrouei knocking up his speed calculatively from 25.16kph to 31.4kph, there was just enough ground for him to carve out a very narrow victory.