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After the summer break and the Ramadan and Id festivities, the UAE endurance season will kick start for the year on Saturday November 1, 2008, with the staging of the FEI 100 km ride for Juniors and Young riders. The day will also feature two Federation Qualifiers 40km and 80 km respectively.

The UAE endurance season for the year is promising to be a hectic one with several national and international rides being planned along with rides for juniors and young riders, owners of local stables and also exclusive rides for ladies.

After the World endurance Championship which is slated to be held in Malaysia on November 7 and 8, 2008, in which six UAE riders will be participating, endurance riding will start off briskly in the UAE on November 15, 2008 with FEI, 120-km ride scheduled to be held at the Emirates international Endurance Village, Al Wathba. Dubai Endurance City will open its doors for the season with FEI 120-km ride on Saturday, November 29, 2008. The rides will be held in Emirates International Endurance Village, Al Wathba, Bou Thieb Endurance Village, Al Khatem, Al Asayel Endurance Village, Sweihan and Dubai International Endurance City, Seih Assalem, Dubai.

Some of the eagerly awaited rides of the season include the National Day Cup, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup, Sheikh Rashid bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Challenge (Two Rounds), Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al MAktoum Challenge (Two Rounds), Sheikh Saeed bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Cup, three-day 240-km Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan Endurance Cup, which is part of the Endurance Festival held annually in Bou Theib Endurance Village, His Highness The President Cup for Junior and Young Riders, His Highness The President Cup Open ride, His Highness The President Cup for Ladies, FEI Ladies Challenge (in three Rounds) and the FEI GCC Ladies Championship (which is making its debut this year). Most of the days will be featuring Federation Qualifiers to enable junior and young riders to participate in rides of longer distances.

Taleb Dhaher Al Muhairi, who took over as the Secretary General of the UAE Equestrian Federation, recently expressed the hope that the current season will be as successful as the earlier ones. He said that the UAE endurance rides had attracted a huge number of participants including UAE and GCC nationals and expatriates. He said continuous cooperation between those involved in the rides and strong support from the sponsors made the rides successful in the country.

2007-2008 season

It is imperative to mention here that the 2007-2008 season too was eventful.
As many as 68 rides kept the organizers busy throughout the period. The rides included 25 FEI rides, several open rides, rides exclusively for ladies and Federation Qualifiers. Of the 25 FEI rides, a total number of six rides were held at the Emirates International Endurance Village, six in Seih Assalem, Bou Theib Endurance Village played host to nine whereas four rides were held at Al Asayel Endurance Centre.

As many as 2,837 horses started in the rides, including qualifying rounds and rides for ladies, covering a total distance of 5,904 km in all. The number of finishers was 1,226 amounting to 43.21 per cent completion. As many as 1,611 horses were eliminated out of which 973 for lameness, 391 for metabolic reasons, 180 horses retired, 22 disqualified, 542 were presented in vet clinics and 435 were treated.

The endurance department issued new licenses to 528 horses, 560 riders and 43 trainers during the season.

Some of the highlights of the domestic season include
• Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri from Al Wathba Stables rewriting world history in speed for 120-km endurance ride when he finished the National Day Cup in a record timing of 4 hours, 32 minutes and 46 seconds. Riding seven-year-old bay gelding Cupid, Ali Khalfan finished the five-loop ride on an average speed of 26.40 kmph. The National Day Cup, sponsored by Nakheel, was held on December 15, 2007, at the Emirates International Endurance Village, Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi and featured a good number of 112 riders.
• A three-day Endurance Festival, HH Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan International Festival for Endurance, organized by the Bou Theib Endurance Village, in cooperation with the UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation, from January 3-5, 2000 at the Bou Theib Endurance Village, was a huge success.
• An endurance ride for persons with special needs was held at Emirates International Endurance Village, under the sponsorship of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the EIEV.
• The Dubai Equestrian Club hosted the world’s richest-ever endurance ride, the His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Cup 2008. The coveted prize set aside for the winners was worth Dh four billion with the first placed winner riding away with Dh 250,000.
• A FEI judges course for women and men was held at the Al Asayel Endurance Village, Sweihan, Abu Dhabi on February 10 and 11 respectively and was directed by FEI Endurance Chief Ian Williams.

* Shamsah Awad Al Otaiba won the third and the final round of His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Challenge endurance ride for ladies while Afra Khalifa Al Suwaidi finished fourth on Waterlea Tuppence to win the overall championship. The ride held on March 7, 2008, at the Al Asayel Endurance Village, Sweihan, Abu Dhabi, featured 20 lady riders. Afra won a car worth Dh 150,000. This was the second consecutive year that a Ladies Challenge was held at the Al Asayel Endurance Village and this year the rides were sponsored by Hydra Properties.

* Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, won the H.H. The President of the United Arab Emirates Cup endurance ride on February 16, 2008. The ride which was held at the Emirates International Endurance Village featured 87 riders and as many as 22 riders completed the distance.
The race was attended by His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance and Industry and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Presidential Affairs. The Dh1.5 million ride was sponsored by Hydra Properties and Emirates NBD.

•Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, tasted another triumph when he led a 1-2-3 finish in the 120-km His Highness The King's Cup Endurance Ride Championship held in December 2007 at the Bahrain International Endurance Village in Sakhir. Sheikh Hamdan, also won the 120-km FEI CEI three-star Qatar International Endurance Cup held in Doha, Qatar, in March this year.

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