By Muhammad Rafiq
DUBAI: UAE’s Mohammed Ahmed Ghanim Al Marri aboard 9-year-old horse Fagor was crowned champion of the Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Cup 2019 sponsored by Emirates Airline at the 11th running of the prestigious event which is a highlight on the UAE and Arab endurance riding calendar.
Ranked 20th in the FEI Endurance Open Riders World Ranking, this is the second time Al Marri has taken home the Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Cup trophy, his previous win came in 2017.
Representing F3 stables and trained by Ali Ghanim Al Marri, the pair completed the four loops in a time of 4:05:03, over two minutes ahead of closest rival and compatriot Saeed Al Harbi, also from the F3 stables, who finished second aboard grey mare Samsara. Nine out of the top-ten finishers were from the UAE.
The purpose-built Dubai International Endurance city played host to the prestigious CEN 119 km Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Cup. HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai along with His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, The Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council were at the venue to witness the ride.
Speaking after the win Mohammed Ahmed Ghanim Al Marri said: “The ride was fantastic. Two years ago I won this title and last year I couldn’t, so this year I was very keen to win it again. This is the most important win of my career. We work hard all year preparing for this race and it is an honour to win it. I dedicate this win to HH Sheikh Mohammed and HH Sheikh Hamdan.
“Today the weather was a bit hard; it was windy and there was a lot of sand, but the rain yesterday was helpful and it allowed the track to settle a bit and it was better.”
The first group of competitors set off on the 119 km, four-loop course at seven am, the distance for the first loop was 40 kms, at the end of which the winner Ghanim Al Marri was in fourth position. Over the next three loops, Al Marri and Fagor progressed up the standings, finishing in third place at the end of the 35 km second loop, and second place in the 26km third loop. In the final 18 km loop the pair accelerated to grab the lead for the overall win.
The field included 288 runners from 38 countries, involving 92 trainers from 66 different stables. Riders from across Asia, North and South America, Australia and Europe participated in this 2019 running of the prestigious Dubai Crown prince Endurance Cup which is named for His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, The Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council.
The Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline was the highlight of the week-long Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Festival, which featured a total of four rides. The festival opened with the CEN 119 km Dubai Crown Prince Ride for Ladies on Monday, March 11. This was followed by the CEN 119 km Dubai Crown Prince Ride Restricted to Private Stables/Individuals on Tuesday, March 12, and the CEN 119 km Yamamah Endurance Cup for Mares on Wednesday, March 13.