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The Presidents Cup - Race Day
Images by Merri Melde

The Presidents Cup - Race Day
Images by Merri Melde

The Presidents Cup - Preparation
Images by Merri Melde
Home || Photos || Merri's Stories || Linda's Log
Results: Start list || Gate 1 || Gate 2 || Gate 3 || Gate 4 || Gate 5 || Finish || Eliminations

First: Yousef Ahmed Al Bloushi UAE - Charlandre El Sharif
Second: Omair Husain Abdulla Al Bloushi UAE - Silversprings Kabir Arwa (Best Condition)
Third: Naser Al Marzouki UAE - Kaysand Farrazah

Presidents Cup - Race Day

Saturday, February 13 2009

I beat the morning prayer up this morning - 4:45 AM, grabbed a cup of coffee, and Paula Nascimento and I drove to the venue for the 6 AM start of the 10th running of the President's Cup, more formally known as "HH The President of the United Arab Emirates Endurance Cup - the Crown Jewel of Middle East Endurance."

76 riders left on Loop 1 in the dark in a quite non-anarchic start. I saw one horse rearing, but nobody took off as if from a starting gate, and there was no bucking, no falling off. With some of the best horses in the UAE in the race, it would likely be another fast one: Charlandre El Sharif of Al Reef Stables, the current 160-km world record holder (6:28:28, in the 2008 Shaikh Mohammed Cup), was being ridden by Yousef Al Bloushi; Kaysand Farrazah of Al Aasfa Stables, winner of the President's Cup in 2006 and 2008, and 2nd and Best Condition in 2007 with Sheikh Majid (in 6:47:41), was being ridden by Naser Al Marzouki.

It was 55* F and damp, but no wind and no sand in the air. Iet only took 1 hour, 18 minutes, and 10 seconds for the first horse and rider, Omair Al Bloushi on Silversprings Kabir Arwa, to come in to the first vet gate just as the sun was appearing through the ground layer of fog/cloud. He took only 50 seconds to pulse down! Six more horses from the UAE, including Charlandre El Sharif, arrived within two minutes, all posting a 25+ km/h clip, and the rest of the field came pouring steadily in. Just 22 minutes behind the leaders came the Americans, John Crandell and Jan Worthington, along with Shaikha Madiya Hasher Al Maktoum, riding her grey stallion Solid Asa Rock. They all pulsed down in under 3 minutes. Jan was happy, "We're going right on 12 mph." To her amusement, she was stopped outside the vet gate by an interviewer with a TV camera.

Eliminated for lameness already at gate 1 were unlucky riders Rebecca Arnold of Germany, Farah Ahmed Abu Nameh of Jordan, UAE rider Saif Al Faresi, and Italian Patrizia Giacchero.

full story

President's Cup Vet In Day

Friday, February 13 2009 - Merri Melde

Some of us seem to be sleeping in shifts: I got to bed at midnight, journalists Cidinha Franzao and Paula Nascimento got to bed at 3 AM, I woke at 4 AM, they got up at 6 AM. The reason I was up at 4 was not because my job started this early, but because my next door neighbor came strolling and crooning down the hall at that time, slammed his door, and continued singing. I didn't dare put in my earplugs, or I'd miss my alarm clock. Well, at least it wasn't a bad voice...

I joined the Americans for the breakfast buffet at the Mafraq (salad, anyone?), then followed them on the 30-minute drive to the ride venue. The weather was clearing, so this time I could see landmarks for driving - I THINK I've got all the turns and roundabouts right now to make it there on my own. Although driving back is a different matter.

Some of the foreign entrants were exercising their horses, having emerged from their quarantine barns, either handwalking or out riding. We just saw a couple of other horses out on the sand course, always followed by a vehicle or two. The two American riders, John Crandell and Jan Worthington, took their horses Melika (LR Jasuur Melika) and Leon (Golden Lightning) out for an hour ride. Lisa Green practiced handing water bottles off to both of them as they trotted past her. I got out to take pictures at one spot, and Leon came up and sniffed my pockets, because he thought I might have some carrots in there.

full story

Desert Gold

Thursday Arrival, Merri Melde

All is Golden in Abu Dhabi... the earth and the sky. Sand on the ground, in the air, between your toes, in your eyeballs. My plane landed in the wee hours of Thursday morning in what looked like a fog, but what turned out to be a sandstorm, which blew steadily all day.

Three different people said the weather is supposed to clear tomorrow, but those were foreigners. The locals say this will stick around for a while, which could help to make Saturday's 10th running of the 160-km President's Cup interesting. Another important item that could make things interesting is the new set of FEI qualification rules that may possibly keep a good number of UAE horses in the stables.

Lots of familiar faces popped up in the morning at the Hotel Mafraq, at breakfast, at the Press Conference in Dubai, at the hotel lunch buffet, at the evening dinner party. full story

Presients Cup Aftermath

Despite an early Saturday morning, a long ride and a late Saturday night, the Americans were up early for breakfast at the Mafraq (salad, anyone?).

At the stables, where Melika and Leon had been turned out in the sand paddock all night, they were brought in for the first of several smaller grain feedings they’d get throughout the day. Their legs hadn’t been wrapped, but after a cool night walking around in cold sand, there was only the slightest filling in a couple of legs. Both horses looked tired, but content. Leon had lost some weight, but Melika looked the same as she did before the ride.

Everybody worked on packing up gear and hay and grain in trunks and sacks for John to take with him when he traveled with the horses by plane tomorrow, from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam to Florida.

Wendy and John took the horses out for a long walk in the desert, then brought them in for another grain feeding. Then everybody left for the hotel to attend to their own packing. Some were leaving tonight, tomorrow night, and the next night; I’d be moving to Shaikha Madiya’s guest house at her stables in the desert outside of Dubai for the next two weeks.

full story

photo galleries
...and more

12th February 2009
Merri Melde

The 10th Running of the His Highness the President of the UAE Endurance Cup FEI CEI*** 160 km will be held at the Emirates International Endurance Village, Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi on February 14, 2009.

The race is sponsored by Hydra Properties, Shaikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan's Al Wathba breeding stables of Normandy, France, and Al Awani General Enterprises Establishment, whose support for equestrian activities in general and endurance races in particular is an integrated partnership between the economic and sport sectors of the UAE.

Gulf News article: President's Cup winners will ride away with Dh1.5m and cars Abu Dhabi: A whopping Dh1.5 million and four cars are up for grabs in the President's Cup 160-km endurance ride to be held at the Emirates International Endurance Village in Al Wathba tomorrow.
An amount of 1.5 million AED has been allocated as cash prizes and will be distributed to all riders who complete the race. In addition, four cars will be awarded as prizes to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places, and for Best Conditioned Horse. 115 riders are expected to participate, including 20 foreign invitees from France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, USA, Germany, Belgium, Australia, Poland, and Jordan. The ride will consist of 6 loops of 34, 32, 30, 24, 24, and 16 km, with holds of 30, 30, 30, 50, and 40 minutes, with 2 presentations to the vets at each hold. Minimum weight carried is 75 kg, and maximum pulse is 64 bmp, with recovery inspections during the 4th and 5th holds. The race begins at 6 AM.

Foreign riders:

Belgium - Maritza Pereira - Taborah De Sier

France - Phillippe Benoit - Akim Du Boulve
- Caroline Denayer - Kouleur Du Parc
- Pascale Dietsch - Hifrane Du Barthas

Australia - Penny Toft - Kitt
- Kristie McGaffin - Castlebar Darthvader
- Meg Wade - Castlebar Kalahari

Spain - Jon Zabalua Dorronsoro - Eteldjel De Peyrinie

Portugal - Rui Pereira - Trovador Da Oliveirinha
- Joao Raposo - Titanic

USA - Janice Worthington - Golden LIghtning
- John Crandell - LR Jasuur Melika

Italy - Simona Garatti - Drago Sauro
- Patrizia Giacchero - Sunny Boy
- Cinzia Iacchelli - Missouri

Germany - Belinda Hitzler - Shagar 5
Stefanie Arnold - TBA
Rebecca Arnold - TBA

Poland - Beata Dzikowska - Cyryl
Kamila Kart - Cert

Jordan - Farah Abunameh - Zarazeen