UAE awaits Shaikh Hamdan's participation
From left: Juan Carlos Capelli, VP of Longines; Dr Ghanim Al Hajri, secretary-general Emirates Equestrian; Mohammed Essa Al Adhab, general manager of Dubai Equestrian Club; and Patrick Aoun, regional brand manager of Longines at the unveiling of Dubai Endurance Cup during the press conference in Dubai.
Will Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, make it a hat trick of the His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Cup will only be known before the pre-ride on Friday.
Shaikh Hamdan had won the CEI*** event, presented by Longines in 2015 and 2016 but is yet to confirm if he will take part in the 160km event to be run at the Dubai International Endurance City on Saturday.
"It is still too early to be sure about the participation of Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and this will be confirmed by Friday when the pre-ride will start in the afternoon," Mohammed Essa Al Adhab, General Manager of Dubai Equestrian Club, said at the Dubai International Endurance City on Wednesday.
"Till then we are not sure if His Highness Shaikh Hamdan will attend or ride," he added.
The 2014 World Equestrian Games Champion Shaikh Hamdan, had won the ride in 2015 in 6.31.33 hours, onboard Napoli Del Ma from the MRM Stables.
Then, he repeated the feat last year by piloting Ajayeb of the MRM Stables to victory in 6.32.50 hours.
Nonetheless, the UAE still have a strong contingent of riders in Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri, winner in 2009 and 2010, as well as Abdulla Ghanim Alameri and Saeed Ahmad Jaber Al Harbi.
The ride is the highlight of an expanded three-day festival announced by the Meydan Group.And the three-day festival has attracted a strong field of around 300 riders.
The additions to the festival include a CEN 100km His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup for Ladies which took place on Wednesday and a CEN 100km ride restricted to private stables & individuals on Thursday.
"We also need to understand that at such big events, we are expecting strong competition from other teams as many countries are participating," Al Adhab said.
"The main challenge will come from the South Americans. The North Americans are also strong. Of course, from Europe, we have more than 50 horses attending. So, we are expecting a lot of strong horses to be there," he added.Held under the banner of 'Excellence in Unity' the three-day event brings together competitors, officials and fans in the spirit of togetherness and cooperation.
"This race has always represented one of the highlights of the UAE endurance season and is always strongly anticipated by both competitors and spectators. Implementing a three-day festival of rides is a fitting way to honour the leadership and competitive spirit of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed. It highlights his achievements in the sport, as a patron and competitor, and as a ruler through the continuing development of the UAE and Dubai," said Al Adhab.
"The three-day festival will highlight the progress of endurance riding in the UAE and help to increase both participation and performance across the world. We are also keen to emphasise and manage the welfare of horses during the competition through various compulsory checks and due diligence in keeping with internationally stipulated standards," he added.