A precisely calculated ride from Abdul Rahman Saeed Al Ghailani saw the Al Wathba Stables’ rider clinch a thrilling success in the CEN 120km Al Wathba Challenge Endurance ride in Abu Dhabi last weekend. Riding Al Wathba Stables’ 9yo Anglo Arab Almendra JV at an average speed of 28.1kph, Al Ghailani completed the four loop ride in 4 hours 16 minutes and 15 seconds. His winning time was a minute and two seconds better than Emirati compatriot Abdulla Ghanim Al Marri, who completed the ride aboard F3 Stables’ Inshalla Slagger in 4:17:17. Omani rider Issa Radhawan Al Gheilani aboard LM Tremendo from Al Maghaweer Stable 2 was third with a time of 4:22:59.
All of the top three riders had their work cut out as they bid to bring themselves into contention for the prestigious ride at Emirates International Endurance Village in Al Wathba on the outskirts of the UAE capital. Winner Al Ghailani had to work the hardest as he found himself with the 29th best time after the first stage that spanned 40km, where M7 2 Endurance Stables’ rider Ghaith Abdul Wahid Saqer found himself at the top on the back of Aigoual Cyra.
The lead changed hands at the end of the 35km second phase, with MRM Stables’ rider Mansour Saeed Al Faresi filling in for Saqer. At that point, Al Ghailani had managed to work his way up to 14th. The 25km third stage saw Al Ghailani and Almendra JV moving up nine spots into fifth and from there it was just a matter of stepping up the pace, which the pair did while ensuring they kept themselves within set parameters. Al Ghailani’s cause was helped partly by second and third stage leader Al Faresi’s elimination from the race due to his horse Razorback Mechano failing the vet examination on grounds of a high metabolic rate.
Second-placed Al Marri on the other hand moved up from 17th to eighth and then into second over the first three stages and then merely held on to finish a minute and two seconds behind his countryman. Oman’s third-placed rider Al Gheilani was 22nd at the end of the first phase and rode wisely to move from 13th thereafter into sixth and eventually to third. It was Al Ghailani’s first ever success and the Emirati was thrilled to have ‘got the monkey off his back’. “I am just very happy to have won this competition and it is a very important event in my career, riding in the sport,” said Al Ghailani. “It was hot out there and that made things quite difficult for us riders and the horses, but you could tell from the level of participation that this is one of the big events on the annual endurance calendar.”
Finishing fourth and fifth were Hamad Obaid Al Kaabi, who rode MRM Stables’ Unzo, and Mohamed Hasan Al Hammadi, who rode Al Wathba Stables’ HLP Gadafi, respectively. The Al Wathba Challenge was part of the festivities in Abu Dhabi which brought the curtain down on the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival series. Meanwhile, three other rides were held at Bouthib in Abu Dhabi, with Abdulla Mohammed Al Amri, Fatma Hassem Al Marri and Facundo Leites turning up as victors. F3 Stables’ rider Al Amri won the CEI Young & Juniors ride over 120km with Tadjik De L’Aigoual, while his Emirati countrywoman Fatma of Dubawi Stables won the CEN Ladies 100km event with Beachcomber Spiderman. Uruguayan Leites, riding Shagya Tunder for Al Ain Endurance Stables, won the CEN 100km ride for Private Stables