It was celebration time for M7 Stables, when they lifted the prestigious (and indeed weighty) Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Cup.
Image credit: WAM News Agency
The CEN 119 km race was the final event in the annual Dubai Crown Prince Endurance Festival 2020. The four-loop race saw 131 horses eliminated and 75 complete the course. Fifty-eight stables were represented with riders from 25 countries competing for the trophy.
The event was won by UAE rider Ghaith Saqer riding Tsika La Majorie for M7 Stables. Ghaith led from the start and an overall speed of 29.57. Riding an exceptional race, he lead the pack in all but the third loop, where he fell to second place behind eventual second place rider Hamdan Ahmed Al Marri. Starting the final loop of 18 km at 23 seconds behind Hamdan the final loop was fast, at 35.94 kmph.
As the announcement was made across Dubai Endurance City grounds that the leaders were 5 km out, excited crowds began to gather at the finish line. Only minutes later, to the sound of car horns and cheering, Ghaith came into view – a lone rider heading towards the finish. As he crossed the line, he was greeted by an elated Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and crew.
The 13-year-old, Tsika La Majorie looking both sound and remarkably fresh was walked briskly to the vet gate and while celebrations were still unfolding on the finish line, a roar went up from the vet area to confirm the grey gelding had indeed passed the fourth and final veterinary check and in the process secured first place.
Riding into second place was Hamdan Ahmed Al Marri on Castlebar Topgear for F3 Stables. Having overtaken Ghaith in the third loop, the final 18 km loop was always going to be hotly contested. In the end it was clear Tsika La Majorie still had energy to spare and romped home with an impressive 35.94 kmph, while Castlebar Topgear and Hamdan returned with 34.54 kmph.
Issa Al Owaisi also riding for F3 Stables rode into third place on A’Bandom’s Rockabilly, with an average speed of 29.04 across the course.
The prize ceremony was a boisterous affair with Ghaith lifting the trophy and the entire team and crew storming the stage to the delight of the assembled crowd and photographers to grab their share of this incredible win.
Organiser Dubai Equestrian Club said the weeklong festival is an important stop on the Arab endurance calendar and draws inspiration from Sheikh Hamdan and his continuous efforts to help develop and grow sport in the region.