Afra rides to endurance glory
UAE rider guides Buren Dah Orlando to victory in Shaikha Fatima Endurance Cup
UAE lady rider Afra Khalifa Al Suwaidi, astride her ten-year-old Anglo Arab gelding Buren Dah Orlando, landed the 90km HH Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Endurance Cup — for Arab Countries only as the UAE ladies swept the top ten positions at the Emirates International Endurance Village in Al Wathba here on Saturday. Compatriot Lobna Ali Ahmed on board Cameo Zatobeck and behind them finished Nasreen Khasro aboard Vasco.
The race was attended by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai; Shaikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Advisor, Shaikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Advisor of the National Security and Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.
The race was held under the directives of Shaikh Mansour as part of the Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival with 71 lady riders from the UAE, Gulf and Arab countries in the fray for the Dh500,000 prizemoney. The winner has also walked away with the festival’s Rolex watch.
The winner covered the distance in three hours, eight minutes and 38 seconds at an average speed of 28.62 km/hour to cross the finish line six minutes clear of the runner-up.
Nasreen Khasro, riding her Crossbred gelding Vasco, showed the way by the end of the first 30km loop at a relatively high speed of 30.32km/ hour and continued to lead in the second stage before she was challenged by the winner after Vet Gate-3.
“I’m truly delighted to win it for the Etihad Stables thanks to the directives of the trainer Yousuf Al Baloushi,” a jubilant young lady said later. “This is the second success for the stables which is a very good indication. I have won this race four years ago and it’s a great pleasure to return to the winners’ enclosure once again,” she added.
Adnan Sultan, director of the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Lara Sawaya, director of the Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival and chairman of the Ladies Racing Commitee in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR) joined by the sponsors Shaikh Hamdan Al Sharqi, Fatima Al Nuaimi, Manar Al Hanai, Mansour Al Mansouri, Salah Al Marzouqi besides Lulwa Al Awadhi and the German artist Christine gave away the trophies and prizes to the winners.
Meanwhile, Shaikh Hamdan, congratulated the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and his brother His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and their brothers their Highnesses the Members of the Supreme Council and Rulers of the Emirates and the people and residents of the UAE on the occasion of the 42nd anniversary of the National Day and the success of the Dubai bid for the Expo 2020 which has underlined the status of the UAE at the international level.
“The voting of the world in favour of the Dubai bid confirms the depth and strength of the friendly ties which connect the UAE with the rest of the world,” he said. Shaikh Hamdan also praised the hard work of the members of the Dubai bid committee.
“The race was strong and exciting. The horses were well prepared and the riders were in their best form. This season’s races are very promising and the major races will be very competitive including the His Highness the President Cup at Al Wathba and the His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Cup at She Assalam in Dubai,” he added.
Regarding his decision to climb Burj Khalifa, Shaikh Hamdan said he had been thinking of it daily whenever he passed through.
Adnan Sultan said: “The inaugural ladies race of the season at the Wathba was impressive and the big number of participant has contributed to the success of the event.
Lara Sawaya commented: “I would like to congratulate the Etihad Stables of their second win and Afra deserved the title. This is a very good test for the first-ever running of the HH Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies CEIO 120k endurance race which will be held within the FEI 120km World Championship for Young Horses, Garda Endurance Cup at the Garda Lake in Italy on September 28, 2014, under the flag logo of the HH Shaikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival” she said.
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