The home-country favourite has won the 120km endurance ride at CHI Al Shaqab in Qatar at the weekend. Faleh Nasser Bughenaim rode Halte A Tout to win the €200,000 race in 4hrs 56min 19sec, averaging 24.30km/h.
In second was Bilal Bassam Shawqi Al Kharraz riding Ithilien Arwen for the USA. The combination finished just over seven minutes in arrears of the winner, averaging 23.69km/h, with Abdulla Tahous Saif Al Naimi third on Qualine El Widde in 5:08:01.
Bughenaim, the world’s No.1 rider, was ecstatic to win and said his French-bred purebred arabian Halte A Tout was “fantastic”.
They have now won all three of their starts together, with the first in France and the second in Qatar.
“He is a strong horse that likes the desert races,” Bughenaim said,. “It was my strategy to run my own race from beginning to the end. That was my plan and I could make it happen. I never got faster but always kept my speed and could keep the pace.”
For Bughenaim the event unfolded as a race against Qatar’s Essa Mohammed Al Sulaiti, who was second after loop one and led stages 2 and 3. At the end of the fourth loop Bughneaim overtook Al Sulaiti and was alongside him for several minutes. By loop five he was going it alone. “My horse loves that best. He doesn’t like the mass start where he tends to get nervous. On his own he is more happy,” Bughenaim said,
Al-Sulaiti finished sixth.
Visiting French champion Philippe Tomas withdrew Al Shaqab’s Perlando HLM after the third loop, because he felt a slight irregularity in the the chestnut gelding’s movement. “I could have continued but for the welfare of the horse I decided against it,” he said afterwards.
He had ridden Parlando for about an hour the day before the race. “I felt very well connected with him and I would have loved to have finished here.”
Tomas, who has competed in Qatar before, was again surprised by the differences in the sport compared with Europe. “The course is very much different. No twists and turns or ups and downs. It is not technical at all like at home but the higher speed makes all the difference.”