His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, won the 160-kilometre race of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Cup on Saturday at Dubai International Endurance City, the official state news agency WAM reported.
Sheikh Hamdan rode to victory on Napoli Del Ma, while last year’s winner, Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum, riding Mureib, took second place and third place went to Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri.
The race was attended by Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, and HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.
At the weekend, Dubai's government-owned developer Meydan Group announced it boosted the prize money for Saturday's Endurance Cup to almost $2.6 million and announced a series of European races to promote endurance riding, it said on Thursday.
"We feel that endurance has been left out so the prize money was enhanced to benchmark with other sports," said Saeed Humaid al-Tayer, chairman of the group that runs Dubai's opulent racecourse.
Each foreign rider, except Gulf Arab nationals, who completes the challenging 160km (99 mile) Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Endurance Cup will receive 100,000 dirhams ($27,226). About 190 riders are expected to participate.
"For us the welfare of the horses is very important and we want to achieve the highest completion possible," Tayer told a news conference at the Meydan racecourse.
The new series of endurance races will be held in Britain, France, Italy and Spain in 2015 and culminate in Dubai next year to help develop the sport, he added.
Long distance riding, where horses complete the course in loops with periodic veterinary checks, has been thriving in the Middle East and especially in the United Arab Emirates.