The UAE’s top endurance horse trainer Ismail Mohammed saddled two more winners for MRM Stables and that, along with an individual gold by Saeed Al Mehairi and a team bronze by the lady riders, more than made up for the unfortunate elimination of Afra Al Suwaidi in the H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival-sponsored Italian Endurance Festival in Verona, Italy on Sunday.
The MRM Stables’ Ismail Mohammed-trained Descarado had already carried Saif Ahmed Al Mazroui to victory in the FEI World Championship for Young Horses on Saturday and the Dubai-based endurance stable swept the honours on Sunday with Saeed Al Mehairi on Za’Amah winning the 100-km H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival Cup and Ireland’s Amy Louis Mcauley on Souletoile de Sommant finishing first in the 100-km H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Endurance CEIO ride.
In fact, in the H.H. Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Endurance CEIO ride, the UAE’s Afra Al Suwaidi, who won this ride last year, crossed the finish line first on Pacxie de Paute, but unfortunately the horse did not clear the final vet check due to metabolic reasons. Mcauley was in hot pursuit of Al Suwaidi during the final ten kilometers of the 100-km ride, with the UAE star leading from the start, but Pacxie de Paute’s elimination moved the 21-year-old Irish jockey to first place.
Though Souletoile de Sommant’s success was a winning effort for MRM Stables and Ismail Mohammed, Al Suwaidi’s exit meant that three of the other four UAE lady riders had to finish well. France was too good as they claimed the gold and Euros 5,000 prize money with Laetita Tocquet on Tsar Du Cruscau (ranked 2), Elisa Simon on Zeina bint Zaphira (ranked 5) and Cecile Totain on Eaube (ranked 12) wrapping it up.
The UAE’s Shathra Al Hajjaj on Crazy Antar (ranked 15), Nouf Abdul Reda Ali on Caazou (ranked 17) and Alia Al Khafajy on Gallit (ranked 19) rode cautiously to the bronze behind the hosts’ team of Irene Avitabile on Bormane De Piboul (ranked 3), Anastasia Cassoni on Guiditta Di Gallura (ranked 6) and Galia De Gennaro on Darki De Cardonne (ranked 22).
Later on Sunday, Saeed Al Mehairi on Za’Amah came up with a fiery final stage speed averaging over 31.30kmph to overtake hitherto leader Sheikh Mohammed Bin Mubarak Al Khalifa of Bahrain on Kelallie La Cure to win the 100-km H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival Cup. Za’Amah is also trained by Ismail Mohammed at MRM Stables.
“Our horses are in good shape and we are looking forward to the season here and in the UAE. Three winners in three rides over the last two days is encouraging and we hope we continue in a strong fashion,” remarked Ismail Mohammed, the MRM Stables’ trainer.
Speaking on behalf of the UAE team, Shathra Al Hajaj said, “We were sure that Afra (Al Suwaidi) had finished first but towards the end on our final loop we came to know of her exit. So we increased our pace and our efforts fetched us the bronze. We are happy with the result which could have been quite different with a little bit of luck.”
Saqr Nasser Ahmed Al Raisi – the UAE Ambassador to Italy, Dr. Abdul Rahim Al Awadhi from the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Aref Alawani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, ADSC, Dr. Abdulla Elreyes, Director-General of the UAE National Archives, Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Adnan Sultan Al Nuaimi, Director-General of the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Sultan Zakaria Aouda representing the National Feed and Flour Production and Marketing Co. LLC, Khalid Al Hammadi, Ahmad Al Qubaisi of ADSC, Mussalam Al Amri of Al Jazira 1 & 2 Stables and Ms Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, Chairperson of the International Federation of Horse Racing Academies, IFHRA, and Chairperson of Ladies and Apprentice Racing Committees in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities, IFAHR, attended the two races and then participated in the prize distribution ceremonies.
“The last three days have been highly successful and the H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival has created a huge impression of the UAE and its love for Purebred Arabian horses,” said Al Raisi.
Aref Alawani underlined the UAE’s success, and said, “It is remarkable that two of the three rides were won by UAE riders while the UAE lady riders brought the bronze medal home in the team event, reiterating the UAE as a strong sporting nation.”
Encouraged by the success of the H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Endurance CEIO ride over the last two years, Ms. Lara Sawaya, said that from next year the event will be a larger one. “The H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Endurance Cup will be a three-ride series and will be held in three different countries,” she said.
“While it was unfortunate that Afra Al Suwaidi could not repeat her win and lost out after the finish, the other UAE lady riders went on to win the team bronze in tough conditions. They are gaining experience in competing on varied terrain and such rides will enhance their skills,” Ms. Sawaya said.
“Apart from the team riders of France and Italy, we will also invite the Spanish who finished fourth behind the UAE for the November 3rd-9th ‘One World, 6 Continents’ finale of the Festival, in Abu Dhabi,” she added.