ABU DHABI //The Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Cup endurance race for women has drawn 60 leading riders who willbe competing for a slice of the Dh800,000 prize at the Emirates International Endurance Village in Al Wathba on Thursday.
The 100-kilometre contest for the Arab women and has drawn entries from Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon and Morocco.
"It is restricted to the Arab women as to encourage and provide more winning opportunities for them," said Lara Sawaya, the director of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival, the organiser of the endurance race.
"For instance, Maria Alvarez of Spain, the reigning world champion who is based in Dubai, will be very strong on this field.
"This race is to encourage more Arab women to participate and coincides with the country's 40th anniversary of the National Day Cup."
Sheikha Najla Al Khalifa, from the Bahrain Royal Family, will be among three riders to fly down from the neighbouring Gulf State while Oman and Kuwait will have two entries apiece, and with one each from Syria, Lebanon and Morocco.
"Endurance is well established in the UAE with more and more women riders competing against their male counterparts and winning, as Fatma Al Marri did last week," said Adnan Sultan Al Nuaimi, the general manager of the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.
Al Marri, a 17-year-old Emirati schoolgirl, created history last week by becoming the first female rider to win the National Day Cup, a 120km race from a field of 170 entries that included Alvarez, and Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri, the recent winner of the European Open.
Abdulla Al Qubaisi, the director communications for Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, said the race is the richest in the world for women and will be an annual one in the endurance calendar of events.