Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Hamdan at Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Cup Festival. WAM
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, watched on Saturday the main 119km race of Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Cup Festival at Dubai International Endurance City.
The finale, which was attended by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, drew more than 400 male and female riders from 20 countries.
The 12th festival featured four international rides each 119km for ladies, private stables, individuals and the Yamamah Endurance Cup for mares .
Ghaith Abdul Wahed of M7 Stables rode to victory, winning the 119km Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Cup.
Organiser Dubai Equestrian Club said the weeklong Festival is an important stop on the Arab endurance calendar and draws inspiration from Sheikh Hamdan and his continuous efforts to help develop and grow sport in the region.
The Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Festival creates several opportunities for local and international athletes to succeed and challenge their own personal skills and abilities in a safe and secure environment.
Meanwhile, racing in the capital on Sunday at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club is a six-race card with the traditional solitary Thoroughbred contest and five for the Purebred Arabians.
The meeting is arguably highlighted by a 1600m handicap for fillies and mares in which last weeks’ course and distance debutante winner, Raghida, seeks a quick repeat.
Homebred by The Royal Cavalry of Oman, the 4-year-old filly was quite impressive last Sunday when she and Szczepan Mazur stormed to a convincing victory, but they face a totally different task this week.
Mazur again rides for Ibrahim Al Hadhrami, a trainer whose horses are in great form, but, on this occasion, they will need to concede weight to 13 more experienced and, generally, older rivals.
Mazur said: “She impressed me last week but Sunday is going to be much tougher against rivals with much more racing experience. She is a nice filly though and this should tell us how good she might be.”
In contrast, Bushrah Al Reef, to be saddled by Abdallah Al Hammadi for Al Ajban Stables, can boast four victories from 28 starts. The mount of Pat Cosgrave, the 8-year-old mare will be having her fifth outing of the campaign seeking a first victory since March 2018 when successful over this 1600m Abu Dhabi course and distance.
“I rode her three starts ago,” Cosgrave said. “We were second over Sunday’s course and distance and a repeat of that effort should see her at least competitive in an open race.”
The Al Asayl team always need respecting in these races and Eric Lemartinel saddles three for UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan with Fabrice Veron electing to partner Darya, a maiden after four starts but only a 4-year-old and likely to appreciate the return to turf; she has finished second on both her two Abu Dhabi outings before finishing well beaten twice on dirt surfaces.
Like Raghida, SS Jalmod was a 1600m winner at Abu Dhabi last Sunday and he too is back looking for a quick repeat over the same track and trip. Trained by Satish Seemar for Nasir Askar, the 5-year-old gelding was doubling his career tally with that victory and will, this week, have the assistance of Antonio Fresu.
Richard Mullen, aboard SS Jalmod last week, is claimed by the owner to ride Sanad for Yas Racing and Jean de Roualle. Now eight, the gelding won his racecourse debut, over this Abu Dhabi 1600m, in November 2016 but has not won since in eight attempts. That said, his sole poor performance was his solitary dirt outing at Sharjah in January 2018 after which he was not seen back on a racecourse for more than two years, returning with a second over 1400m, here in the capital, three weeks ago.
From three runners to be saddled by Ernst Oertel for Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, Tadhg O’Shea has opted for AF Hakeem, second on both his two most recent appearances, both over this course and distance. The 8-year-old, homebred by Al Nabooda, does have four victories to his name, thrice at Abu Dhabi and once over this 1600m.
O’Shea said: “This horse has been running well this year and the conditions suit. It is never easy to choose in these situations but, hopefully, I have picked the right one but, if not, hopefully Al Nabooda and Ernst at least win the race!”
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