BAHRAIN'S Royal Endurance team, led by captain Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, is gearing up for the second leg of the 120-kilometre Endurance Horseride Grand Prix, which will take place on Saturday at the Bahrain International Endurance Village in Sakhir.
The round follows the opener held last month at the Emirates International Endurance Village in Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi.
Shaikh Nasser, who is the Bahrain Royal Equestrian and Endurance Federation (Breef) president, finished an impressive fourth riding his horse Omsura Nasrohn in that race, which was divided into five stages.
Shaikh Nasser is once again expected to be at the forefront of the Bahraini contingent taking part as hosts in the kingdom's leg. The others set to take to the saddle are Breef first vice-president and Al Khaldiya Stables captain Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa, and Shaikh Salman bin Saqer Al Khalifa, Ghazi Al Dossary, and Abdulhaq Qadoori.
Al Dossary was the other Bahraini rider to excel in Abu Dhabi, finishing eighth overall. Shaikh Khalid had to pull out of the race during its second stage, as his horse was exhausted.
The Bahrain round is also set to feature some of the Gulf's other top riders and horses, including members of the UAE team who dominated the first race. Their squad is expected to include UAE vice-president, prime minister, and Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, as well as his son Sheikh Hamdan, who was considered as one of the leading title-contenders entering the Grand Prix.
They will be joined by first leg winner Abdulla bin Hazim, who in Abu Dhabi finished ahead of UAE presidential affairs minister Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and compatriot Ahmed bin Harmash who was third.
Shaikh Mohammed was fifth overall, while Shaikh Hamdan had to pull out following an injury to his horse.
The Grand Prix, which has been approved by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), will crown its overall champion after all three races have been completed, based on the total number of points accumulated from each leg.
Among a race's top finishers, the winner earns 100 points, while second gets 80, third 70, fourth 60, and fifth 50 points. Riders classified sixth through 10th will also come away with points.
Each participating rider must weigh at least 75 kilograms without riding equipment, and must be registered with the FEI.
The third and final leg, which is yet to be scheduled, will be held at the Dubai International Endurance City in Seih Assalem.