Emirates International Endurance Village, Al Wathba, United Arab Emirates. Saturday 2 December 2017. The National Day Cup is a race very much anticipated by the United Arab Emirates based stables as the first big measure of power in the season.
Ahead of the race, rumours were going round that the stables would enter their best horses, although other experts predicted the champion horses would be kept fresh for the Sheikh Mohammed cup or the President’s Cup in January and February respectively.
The organiser, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, kept hold of their policy to limit entries to four horses per stable which resulted in a total of 156 entries.
Some of the best horses remained at their stable but the entry field was still strong enough to see real quality.
The 120km race divided into four loops of 40, 35, 25 and 20km saw some surprises and a big influencer was the weather. At this time of the year, temperatures are usually low at the start and building up during the race.
However on this National Day Cup temperatures were above normal with high level of humidity.
A leading trainer reacted: “I don’t understand, it looks like our horses need a lot more time to recover compared to some others. True that today the weather is ‘heavier’ than usual but I can’t see why some can almost walk straight into the vet check and we need more time, with some horses even getting penalties.”
One of the main contenders who suffered from a long recovery time after the first loop was Salem Al Kitbi – UAE (Al Theeb) who arrived in the leading group but due to his long recovery dropped to 44th position. Salem would fight his way back through the standings and finish in fifth position.
Ali Al Hosani – UAE (SM Lord l’ebrio) started the second loop in front however he was not able to hold that position; he started the final loop in second place. The high speeds during the day took its toll and he would finally finish eighth.
Leader after the second loop was Daiana Chopita – ARG (Tehama Souveign) and she was able to keep this position till the very end, resulting in a very convincing victory. After each loop, her horse had very short recovery times and this was the key to success.
Her comments after the race: “Yes of course I’m very happy. This was a difficult race with a lot of competition and finishing first is like a dream coming through. Correct, my horse seemed to be the best to race under these weather conditions considering the shorter recovery times.”
Mansour Al Faresi – UAE (Rakib Nikita 10) had a difficult day which got compensated with an incredible last loop.
“We can affirm this”, were the comments from his stable. “ If you see that Mansour was in 27th position after the first loop and started the final loop in seventh. Horse and rider gave it all with the second place as a result and this second place looks a bit unexpected if you see how the race went.”
Third place went to stable mate Hamad Al Kaabi – UAE (Unzo) who was also outside the top 20 after the opening loop.
National Day Cup Results
|National Day Cup. CEN 120km|
|1st||Daiana Chopita||ARG||Tehama Souveign||Al Wathba Stables|
|2nd||Mansour Al Faresi||UAE||Rakib Nikita 10||MRM Stables|
|3rd||Hamad Al Kaabi||UAE||Unzo||Green Endurance Stable|