x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Ponton looks to improve on her European bronze

It is the women's turn to compete in the 120-km race at the Al Asayel Endurance Village.

First it was the junior and young riders, next the men, and now it's the turn of the women, who will be in action in the first of the three-race series exclusively for the ladies at Al Asayel Endurance Village today. The 120-km race with an FEI-CEI three-star status has drawn 30 entries including the newly crowned world champion Maria Alvarez Ponton, of Spain. Ponton, who trains endurance horses with her husband Juma Punti Dachs in Dubai for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, won the world crown earlier this month in Terengganu, Malaysia.

She has been in fine fettle with her champion horse Nobby. On whom she won a bronze medal in last year's European Championship in Portugal. Ponton, riding in her first race after winning the individual gold in the World Endurance Championship, was a creditable third to Omair al Baloushi and Mohammed Ahmad al Subose in the 120km Sorouh Challenge at the Emirates International Endurance Village in Al Wathba last weekend.

She is set to ride 13-year-old Arabian gelding Hamlet El Indaio in today's race with a majority of the Emirati women, including the champion of the race series Afra Khalifa al Suwaidi and Shamsah Awad al Otaiba, the winner of the final leg of the race series. Suwaidi rides 11-year-old Part Arab mare Lauralyn Sisette and joining her in the strong Emirati line up are Sheikha Maryam bin Omer Al Qassimi on Tsalla, Sheikha Asma Taleb Al Qassimi (Koheilan Des Serres) and Sheikha Madiya Hasher Al Maktoum (JG Opie).

apassela@thenational.ae