x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

What horsepower did you say this is?

Most people choose their ride based on horsepower. One Ajman royal has taken this to the extreme and customised a motorbike to look like his Arabian stallion.

Visitors look at the motorbike designed in the form of a horse on the opening day of the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrain Exhibition yesterday at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. Ravindranath K / The National
Visitors look at the motorbike designed in the form of a horse on the opening day of the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrain Exhibition yesterday at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // Most people choose their ride based on horsepower. One Ajman royal has taken this to the extreme and customised a motorbike to look like his Arabian stallion.

It is a quintessentially Emirati creation: a triumph of modernity encased in a tribute to heritage.

As the real-life stallion enjoys a prolonged holiday in Las Vegas, his motorcycle double attracted crowds at the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (Adihex) on its opening day yesterday.

At an exhibition that included displays with stuffed lions on fake cliffs amid 50 live falcons, and furniture crafted from antelope horns, it is no easy feat to stand out.

Escape Navarrone, a show horse on which the motorcycle is modelled, is Belgian-born and a veteran of European and Middle East championships.

Owned by Sheikh Ammar bin Humaid, Crown Prince of Ajman, the horse won its first American championship in Las Vegas.

"He went to America, it was a whole new world for him," said Dr Umar Raza Gill, the veterinarian who tended and studded the horse.

Dr Gill and the trainers at the Ajman Stud pavilion know almost nothing about the motorcycle's mechanics but they know everything about the horse that inspired it.

"When he went to America it was an amazing thing for us to see because he's a very pretty show horse - and he shows in the ring that he's the king," said Dr Gill.

After the 2011 Stallion Championship in Las Vegas, "the idea came to His Highness to make a bike", Dr Gill said.

Sheikh Ammar flew a team of specialists from the famous Orange County Choppers to meet Escape Navarrone in the flesh.

The bike captures the horse in full stride - its four long legs reach in the air over the wheels, its head descends between the handle bars. The gleaming pipework of the motorcycle is exposed underneath.

In life, Escape is a beautiful horse - and he knows it. His diva confidence wins competitions but it comes with a temper. He has broken a man's arm and bitten heads.

"He's a naughty guy sometimes, he bites people, he kicks them, he likes to play," said Dr Gill. "You have to be quite sharp and clever while handling him."

For Dr Gill, the motorcycle captures "all that attitude" if not quite his beauty. "If you go with 100 per cent the horse in sculpture there are things that are different than a live one. Only Allah has made it and it cannot be 100 per cent the same. There will be a difference," he said.

The seat is a saddle, and this bike is meant to be ridden.

"It's not very speedy," said Khalifa Al Shamsi, the assistant manager of Ajman Stud. "If you ask me, I love the horses better."

He has driven the motorcycle on JBR road in Dubai, albeit slowly and carefully in order to protect the bike and make sure others get a good look.

Mr Al Shami tried to point out Escape's high points by noting his scores, but then stopped and looked at the replica. "I can't show you because it's a motorbike."

Escape may return to Ajman in a year."This horse gave us a championship in Las Vegas we should give him something also," Mr Al Shamsi said. "Because you know he wants to seen around Vegas. With first class, huh? Believe me. We keep a big paddock only for him, and he relaxes in Vegas."

The motorcycle's popularity at Adihex means it may not be long before it is copied.

"In the Gulf they are quite keen to have something special to the horse, related to the horse and involving the horse," Dr Gill said. "So definitely they will have some more horse bikes coming."

Mr Al Shamsi agreed. "It's a motorbike not only for us, it's for everyone in the world."

azacharias@thenational.ae