BAHRAIN'S Isa Bu Hazza, riding CR Prince Charming, won the Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Endurance Ride Championship yesterday at the Bahrain International Endurance Village in Sakhir.
A 75-strong field set out on the four-stage 100-kilometre race before dawn. But Hazza was first off the blocks and once he established a big lead he did not have to look back.
He was the sole leader after the opening two legs of 30 kms each, and he maintained a strong stride over the remainder of the ride to complete the event in four hours 23 minutes and 49 seconds.
Hazza built a gap of over seven minutes from his closest challenger by the time he reached the finish line. Compatriot Ebrahim Al Jabury, riding Al Habeeba, was the runner-up with a total ride time of 4:31:19. The duo made an impressive one-two for Ahmed Al Fateh Stable.
Al Jabury did well to pace himself behind the victor and managed to overcome a late challenge from third-placed rider Salman Isa, who is also Bahraini and riding for Al Hawar Stable.
Isa, saddling Tirroan, moved up to second overall after the 25 kms third stage. But Al Jabury regained the advantage with a stronger ride down the final 15 kms to seal second place.
Isa finished three minutes behind Al Jabury in 4:34.30.
Abdulla Yusuf Al Qasimi from the Bahamas was fourth. Riding Jellaby Kafour, Al Qasimi had a total ride time of 4:53:01, and was the last rider to finish the event under five hours.
Fifth was Ali Al Tamimi on Khoto. The Al Asayel Stable ace had a solid performance that saw him finish in 5:00:57.
Bilal Al Rajab riding Sedan was sixth. Al Rajab, from Al Muhqeerat Stable, registered a total ride time of 5:06:59.
Rounding out the top eight were Othman Abduljalil Awadhi and Jaffar Mohammed Salman. Awadhi, riding Jacquard de la Pouge from Ahmed Al Fateh Stable, completed the race in 5:08:18; while Salman, saddling Suwaity Reaan from Awal Stable, was not far behind in 5:09:44.
Awadhi overtook Salman in the final stage to finish ahead of his close rival.
All the winning riders were later presented with trophies and cash prizes by Bahrain Olympic Committee president Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa and Shaikh Sultan bin Hamad Al Khalifa. Shaikh Nasser and Shaikh Sultan are the sons of His Majesty King Hamad and the brothers of Bahrain Royal Equestrian and Endurance Federation (Breef) president Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
The event, which was the third of the endurance season, was organised by Breef and held under the patronage of Shaikh Khalid. It was sponsored by the Swiss-Bahrain Holding Company.
Along with his first-placed trophy and prize money, Hazza drove home the grand prize of a brand new Toyota Land Cruiser.
Meanwhile, Dhruv Singh from India finished first in the 85 kms and 60 kms qualifying events.
He had a total ride time of 4:24:53 on Lormar Lorraine in the 85 kms race, and then completed the 60 kms event in 3:04:43.
India's Mohan Singh, riding LO 605, came second in both events. Hari Singh, also from India, finished third in the 85 kms event while Bahrain's Abdulrahman Al Saad was third in the 60 kms ride.