By Duane Fonseca

RUSHFORD ESTATE proved to be a happy hunting ground for Salem Malhoof Al Ketbi for a second straight month as he picked up yet another victory at the venue when winning the Rushford Endurance CEI 3* 160km ride on 31 July.
Al Ketbi had won the June edition of the race amidst scenic settings, with the picturesque venue serving as the backdrop for another famous victory that saw him and his M7 Stables owned partner Ahmad Du Barthas go about their business over the first four stages calculatively before knuckling down to take over the summit in the fifth and final stage.

Al Ketbi took over from Spain’s Guillem Soldevila Altarriba, riding SS Stables’ Majic Richardo, in the final 20km loop to win with a timing of eight hours 20 minutes and 19 seconds (8:20.19). The pair recorded an average speed of 19.19kph in the process.
Altarriba fought hard after leading over the first four phases but couldn’t stop Al Ketbi from winning, the Emirati rider being adjudged the victor after finishing fractions of a second quicker. Altarriba had clocked the same time as Al Ketbi, while Argentine lady rider Martina Spelanzon was a distant third on M7 Stables’ SW Gelchem with a time of 8:58.43. 

Al Ketbi said after, “It is great to have another win here. Ahmad Du Barthas is a very strong horse – I’m already qualified for the World Cup with him. Today’s ride we have more people than last time – and the ground is soft even though it’s been hot, so the loops have been very good. I hope I’ll be coming back to ride here in August.”

Mohammed Al Subousi, trainer of the winning CEI3* 160km horse, commented, “I would like to thank the Organising Committee for their work here; the organisers, the stewards – everyone who has made this happen. For us to be in Rushford when we used to be at Euston is a new experiment for us, but we are finding a better experiment. We like the track a lot, the riders like the track a lot, the horses liked it and we enjoyed being here very much. We run many races in Europe, and we think Rushford is very good for the horses – nice and flat and very safe. I think we would like to bring our World Cup horses here for their final preparations – it’s perfect.” 

In Saturday’s two CEI3* sections, the top honours both went to British riders with the 160km section taken by Saffron Bishop and TY Shute Golden Savannah, and the 140km by Linda Cowperthwaite with Krakatau.
Speaking after her triumphant CEI3* 160km ride, Saffron Bishop paid tribute to her horse, “My ride was hard but [TY Shute Golden Savannah] was so good, he just kept going. He’s a tough cookie. I’m not 100% on our plans from here, but we might go to Red Dragon and then potentially another CEI3*. I like the new location at Rushford, it’s very good although TY Shute Golden Savannah hates pigs! He bounced every time we passed them; I think it kept him going to be honest!”
CEI3* 140km winner Linda Cowperthwaite said: “Saturday’s ride was all about getting round the 140.

“It’s his second three star and he’s got his qualification for the World Championships, so fingers crossed that’s going to be our next competition! He’s such a brave boy. It’s good to be back out on these tracks, and I love this new venue.”  
Sunday’s CEIYJ2* 120km ride was won by Rashed Ahmad Seghayer Alktebi (UAE) with El Nize Magnifield, with Zayed Ahmad Khalifa Obaid Al Marri (UAE) and ML Ray in second.