Since inception, the Hatta Endurance Cup has produced some interesting contests and this year’s renewal was no different with the top three finishing within just 11 seconds of each other. Saeed Hamoud Saeed Al Khayari finished up the winner when riding Magdam belonging to SS Stables, but his ride time of 4 hours 24 minutes and 36 seconds was only eight seconds better than second placed Zabeel Stables’ rider Amy Louise McAuley who rode Benmaco De Saularie across the finish in 4:24:44. In third place a further three seconds adrift, was Al Khayari’s Emirati compatriot and SS Stables’ teammate Khalaf Ahmad Saeed Al Ghaith aboard Davlyn Park Throb.
While Al Khayari managed to steal the show in the fourth and final loop over 18km, Ghaith Abdul Wahid Saqer dominated proceedings over the course of the first three loops that covered a total of 101km. Saqer seized the initiative at the end of the first phase over 40km. Riding Hattan, he recorded a time of 1:25:59 and managed to hold onto the lead over the second and third phases spanning 35km and 26km respectively. Going into the fourth phase, he was just one second ahead of TNT Private Stables’ rider Khalaf Al Ghaith aboard Davlyn Park Throb. Al Khayari, meanwhile, had moved up to third from sixth, a position he had dropped to after placing fifth at the end of the first loop.
Al Khayari wasn’t far behind as the leaderboard appeared crowded with the rest of Saqer’s rivals hot on his heels. In fact, he was a mere six seconds behind, but with the leader somehow managing to hold onto his lead over the first three phases, wrestling the summit off him was never going to be easy. However, Magdam had enough in the tank and the 9yo bay gelding delivered the goods as he carried Al Khayari up two spots to a fitting finish, with second placed McAuley only just behind, and yet slightly ahead of Al Ghaith, who took third. Al Khayari, who finished third in the CEN 120km National Day Cup at Al Wathba in Abu Dhabi, was happy to have tasted his first success of the season ahead of next week’s massive Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Festival.
“It was a tough race and it was contested at a high speed in the early stages. The pace dropped in between but that was down to tactics and it was bound to pick up in the final phase,” Al Khayari said. “Magdam is a great horse and was bred by the stables of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. He has a good amount of stamina and the ability to recover quickly. The performance of his heart was good during the veterinary examinations as well. Sultan Al Sabousi has trained him well and I would like to thank him and the stable staff for their efforts in helping me win.” Mohammed Essa Al Adhab, the general manager of Dubai Equestrian Club, which organised the event, was thrilled with the level of competition and the tactics employed by the teams.
He said: “It was a fast paced race and the way the teams competed for the prize until the very end made it an excellent event. “Participation in the race was not the usual and that could be down to the fact that the Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Festival is close at hand and all of the stables are keen to send out their best in that event. “The Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Festival always attracts the best riders and horses and we are in the final stages of preparation to host that ride here. “It is the most important event of the season and it brings to a close the endurance season events here at Dubai International Endurance City.”