By Duane Fonseca
Two-time champion Saeed Salem Atiq Khamis Al Muhairi will look for a hat-trick of wins as he spearheads the UAE’s challenge at the 2021 FEI World Endurance Champion for Young Riders and Juniors which runs from 6-11 September at Ermelo, Netherlands.
The UAE dominated proceedings at the last edition of the FEI World Endurance Champion for Young Riders and Juniors at San Rossore, Pisa, Italy in 2019, with Al Muhairi winning gold ahead of compatriots Shaheen Al Mazrouei and Saif Al Mazrouei.
Al Muhairi, 19, recorded impressive wins at the last two editions of the event at San Rossore and Valeggio Sui Mincio (2017), and is part of a quintet representing the UAE who will compete for individual and team honors at the prestigious bi-annual championships.
Al Muhairi will be joined by Abdulla Ali Mohamed Ali Alamri, 21, Fares Ahmad Saeed Daafoos Amer Al Mansoori, 18, Hamdan Ahmad Mohd Al Marri, 21, and 15yo Khalfan Juma Mohammed Khamis Beljafla, the youngest member of the squad.
To qualify, all riders must have been born between 1 January, 2000, and 31 December, 2007, according to the FEI General Rules.
The UAE team will sport the ‘Fly Better Emirates’ logo on team jerseys.
Major General Mohammed Essa Al Adhab, General Manager, Dubai Equestrian Club (DEC) commented: “In what has been a very difficult year for sport with the current pandemic, the UAE is delighted to be able to send our national team to the World Endurance Championship for Young Riders and Juniors.
“Good and safe planning between the officials and rider has led to our participation in the Netherlands. Hopefully, we go to the event with a positive attitude to give our best. The squad is at their best fitness levels and their mental game is at its highest.
“They are a young team and still have room to improve, but we hope they can achieve their goals of delivering their best performances, both individually and as a team.”
Some of the world’s best young long distance riders will compete in the 120km that will be contested over four legs on 9 September.
Al Muhairi says he will ride his heart out in a bid to win a third straight gold.
“It is very exciting and I feel privileged to be in this position to represent the UAE and make the country proud,” he said.
“The main thing is that I feel I am improving and performing better and beet, which is the goal of this noble sport. I have the confidence and I am going to the Netherlands to give my best,” he added. “I’m excited and determined to compete well.”
Over 100 riders froPm 35 nations, including Algeria, Andorra, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, South Korea, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, United Arab Emirates, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, Namibia, Norway, Holland, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Slovakia, USA, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Hungary, and Uruguay will be seen in action at Ermelo which will simultaneously host the European Championship for Seniors.