SOUTH AMERICAN domination was more than evident in the His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Festival’s Ladies Ride, with Argentines nicking the top two podium spots and a Uruguayan rounding off presentation ceremony affairs. And it took a brave, against all odds, bid from Camila Rodriguez to win as she made her challenge from well outside the Top 10 going into the last of four phases of the 119km event at Dubai International Endurance City.
Riding for F3 Stables and partnering A’Bandom’s Rockabilly, Rodrigues went about her business at an average speed of 27.53kph to register a winning time of four hours 19 minutes and 23 seconds (4:19.23) which was merely three seconds quicker than her Argentina compatriot and F3 teammate Maria Santina Zunino, who completed the ride aboard Tonki Dee Boo Barista in 4:19.26.
The event was keenly contested with third placed Uruguayan Cecilia Garcia, riding M7 Endurance Stables owned Bleuet Du Bignon, a further 15s adrift with 4:19.41 on the clock. A total of 89 rider horse pairs set out to conquer the course set in Al Qudra on the outskirts of Dubai and the Argentines were quick to lay down a marker, with host team M7 Endurance Stables’ Julia Spelanzon on Bambou De Perros setting the fastest time over the 40km first loop.
Julia was followed by teammate and Spanish rider Bruna Pujols Aumatell in second place on Lamar as M7 Endurance attempted to establish themselves at the top of the field.
However, things didn’t go exactly according to plan during the course of the 32km second loop with Chilean rider Catalina Llorens riding Jumeirah Stables owned Junior Polvorillo challenged for the summit and took over, holding sway over the third loop spanning 27km as well.
After being upstaged Julia dropped to third and then to 10th, with Martina Spelanzon of M7 Endurance replacing teammate Aumatell in second on Antar Du Sauveterre. Rodriguez and her Khalifa Ghanim Al Marri schooled A’Bandom’s Rockabilly started the day in ninth and then dropped to 11th over the course of the second loop.
The third loop saw a further slip in rank with the pair falling a further six places to 17th. Going into the final 20km loop, which is often considered the sprint section, where riders normally up the tempo several notches, Rodriguez was 1m28s behind leader Llorens. Rodriguez knew it was now or never, but she decided to throw the kitchen sink and upped A’Bandom’s Rockabilly pace from 24.47kph over the third loop to 34.37kph.
That produced a very quick run over the final loop allowing her to climb to the top with her nerves jangling until the very end when she received news her mount was passed fit. Second placed Zunino did well to fight for the top spot, but had to be satisfied with second, just three seconds behind, even as Garcia took third a further 15s in arrears.
Meanwhile, the competition for Private Stables witnessed Zabeel Stables’ rider Abdulla Ali Al Amri make consistent strides to the top on Imhan De Luriecq and gain victory after a bit of luck went his way. Having placed 24th at the end of the first phase, the pair seemed way out of contention in what was panning out to be a very competitive ride as the lead changed hands during every phase.
Layla Mohammed Al Marzooqi on Al Kamda Endurance Stables owned Camil Des Combettes led after the first phase, but the Emirati female rider made way for her male compatriot Saeed Ahmad Al Shamsi, on SS Stables’ Escarpell, to take over after the second loop. However, with Al Shamsi failing to hold on to the top during the third loop, the lead passed to his teammate Delfina Maria Gauthier on ER Evegal. Gauthier completed the phase but retired her mount at the gate leaving the fight for the title wide open.
Al Amri started the day in 24th, but climbed up the rung steadily and was 15th at the end of the second. He made further progress during the third loop and made his bid for the fourth and final loop from seventh. He eventually won clocking 4:21.47, having gone through the four loops at an average speed of 27.27kph.
Finishing second was Al Marzooqi with a time of 4:21.50, while TNT Private Stables’ Zayed Ghanim Al Marri was relegated to third after finishing fractions of a second behind on the back of Be Alive De Sommant. Al Marri and his mount were timed at an identical 4:21.50. The week long His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Festival includes two more rides: the 119km Gamilati Endurance Cup for Mares and the 160km His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Cup, the showpiece contest of the festival.