Cover Story


May 31 - June 6, 2023

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Equine endurance queen Manal Fakhrawi, who returned to the kingdom after consecutive racing successes overseas, is already back on the saddle in preparation for another feat to be held next month in France.

After some much-needed rest and relaxation from finishing fourth in the Royal Windsor Horse Show staged in England’s Windsor Park and securing second place in the Spanish Endurance Championship in Ademuz, the horse-loving mum is now working on her strength and stamina for her upcoming challenge.

“With two back-to-back races, I took some time to recover and now I’m preparing for the next race,” said Manal, who was awarded the Efficiency Medal by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, alongside other members of the Bahrain Royal Endurance Team for their victory in the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) Endurance World Championship in Abu Dhabi in February.

“As temperatures are rising in Bahrain, and it’s getting hot for the horses, I will be focusing more on indoor training which will help maintain my stamina and strength.

“I would like to thank my supporters for never failing to encourage me and my team as well for allowing me to test my horse-riding skills. I hope all the hard work and achievements will help inspire others to challenge themselves.”

Manal was delighted to compete with the Bahrain Royal Endurance Team in Windsor which is held in high esteem by His Majesty King Hamad, who has attended the annual event on several occasions.

“It includes many equestrian competitions and shows, one of which is the Royal Endurance Horse Race that is under the patronage of His Majesty,” she said

“The race took place on May 12 under very cold and wet conditions due to continuous rain, making the terrain extremely muddy and slippery. Riders had to be extremely cautious to ensure the horses completed each stage safely.”

There were Royal Endurance Team riders competing in the 100km, 120km and 160km races. She participated in the 120km race along with other team members such as Shaikh Isa bin Faisal bin Rashid Al Khalifa.

“We also had other riders to fight with right to the end of the race,” she added. “It became challenging to maintain certain speeds and come neck-and-neck with the UAE team members who were our main competition.

“With only seconds ahead of me, and fighting for the podium, I managed to finish fourth. Although I hoped for a better result, I could not be happier with my horse Deese La Majorie’s performance.”

Two days later, they were preparing again in Spain. “The race was cold with a bit of rain, but unlike Windsor, the terrain was hilly, dry and hard,” she explained. “Riders encountered steep hills and had to carefully help their horses ascend and descend.

“For most of the race, we had the Spanish team at close quarters which led to high speeds in certain areas but, with great team work and planning, we were able to defeat them at the finish line with my teammate Salman Isa coming in first and myself following in second on my horse Emir de Tannes. A great race and result for Bahrain!” added Manal who clinched first place in the 160km King Cup Endurance held at Bahrain International Endurance Village in 2021.

Salman finished in 6 hours, 7 minutes and 41 seconds, and Manal completed the race in 6 hours, 7 minutes and 42 seconds. Their teammate Ahmed Althawadi came third in 6 hours, 7 minutes and 46 seconds.

Abdulla Al Ruwaei outclassed other riders to rank first in the junior category, clocking 6 hours, 59 minutes and 14 seconds. The Royal Team champions were honoured at the end of the championship.

For more details on Manal’s equestrian journey, follow @m_fakhrawi on Instagram.

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