Sheikh Mohammed recalls the thrill of his first race
Dubai - "The first moments always remain with us: The first horse, the first race and the first love, these are unforgettable moments."
In the 15th chapter from his latest book, Qissati, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, describes the "unforgettable moments" of his first race with his very first horse.
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The first moments always remain with us: The first horse, the first race and the first love, these are unforgettable moments. The news about a new race announced by my father spread everywhere. Sheikh Maktoum prepared his horse, Al Ouda; Sheikh Hamdan was working with his horse, Hamdaniya, and I was happy with my horse, Umm Halaj.
My father ordered the establishment of a 2km track on the Jumeirah beach and the competitors pitched their tents around the beach with their horses. I went to the area to pitch a tent for my brothers and myself. That night, I walked around the whole track, talking to my horse about the race.
After several long nights of dreams, the day of the race finally dawned. I offered the dawn prayer and rushed to feed my horse and wash it. A fog had descended on the beach, but organisers felt it wouldn't affect the race, as the visibility was 50 metres.
My brother, Maktoum, trained his horse, but asked Salouma Al Amry to ride it instead of him due to his weight. Al Ouda was my biggest competitor.
Finally, we were asked to gather at the starting point. I talked to Umm Halaj about the race. Suddenly, a shot ended the silence of the morning, the race had started!
Umm Halaj ran surprisingly fast. Al Ouda was ahead of me until he disappeared in the fog. I decided to follow it. I was so happy and proud when Umm Halaj did exactly what I wanted. Salouma was just five steps ahead. He looked back to see that I was so close!
He preferred the right side of the track, but when he saw me, he started to move in my way. When I saw the flag at the end line in front of me, I knew I didn't have time to go around him.
Al Ouda won the race and my horse followed just one step behind. Sheikh Hamdan bagged the third spot. What a win that was for my father's stable!
My father smiled and told me: "Well done, Mohammed." I wished that moment would stay on forever.
In what he is calling his "incomplete biography", His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has broken his latest book, Qissati (My Story), into 50 chapters, narrating 50 stories in his 50 years of serving the nation. Khaleej Times got a signed copy of the book from the Dubai Ruler and everyday, we will be featuring excerpts from each of the 50 chapters.