A stylish ride saw HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the Dubai Crown Prince, head an Emirati top four finish in the test event for the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina, late last month. Riding Upedro at an average speed of 16.33kph, Sheikh Hamdan completed the CEI 2-star 120km ride in a time of 7 hours 21 minutes and 44 seconds. His Emirati countryman Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum, who finished second aboard Toumai Eureka, clocked the same time as the Dubai Crown Prince, while in what was a very close ride Sheikh Hamed Dalmook Al Maktoum placed third a further second behind when riding S’teem De Lacam.
Sheikh Hamdan’s dominance could be seen in the fact that he moved into the summit at the end of the second loop and held on rather comfortably for a win that should put the UAE among the favourites heading into the World Equestrian Games in Tryon in September. Sheikh Hamdan was placed seventh at the end of the first loop spanning 39.2km which saw the Emirates’ Salem Hamad Saeed Malhoof Al Kitbi register the best time aboard Ainhoa Kesdor. However, the pair were eliminated at the end of the second phase over 26km after the horse was deemed to have an irregular gait.
By then, Sheikh Hamdan had already launched his own bid for the summit and helped by the misfortune that befell his compatriot took it upon himself to ensure the UAE stamped it’s authority on the race and furthermore put itself down as one of the top contenders for the endurance prize when the tournament proper gets underway in a four months’ time. Sheikh Rashid, who finished second, did well to work his way up from 11th at the end of the first phase. He was fourth at the end of the second and dropped a place in the third, but immediately put his act together to finish second. Third placed Sheikh Hamed was more consistent, but after consecutive fifth places over the first two phases he moved to fourth and eventually settled for third.
Another experienced young UAE rider Abdulla Ghanim Al Marri, finished third on the back of Bobang Al Andalus with a time of 7:21.46, while Spain’s lady rider Maria Alvarez Ponton claimed fifth place. The dominance and experience of the Emirati quartet could be seen in the fact that Ponton finished with a time that was a little under 19 mins behind the time recorded by Al Marri. A total of 24 riders completed the event from a starting field of 73.