Emirati women jockeys make history

Fatma Al Marri and Shathra Al Hajjaj became the first to compete in a horse race on the flat in Holland.

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Fatma Al Marri and Shathra Al Hajjaj made history yesterday when they became the first Emirati women to compete in a horse race on the flat.

Al Marri finished fifth on Vantage Lady, owned by Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed, and Al Hajjaj was seventh on Tarfa, in the silks of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, at the Duindigt racecourse in Holland.

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Inside the National's Ussama Taha met with Emirati Layla Al Redha to find out what it takes to be an female Emirati endurance racer.

Rachel King, the experienced Briton, on board Sankado, won the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Fegentri Cup run over 1,900 metres for a purse of €20,000 (Dh105,000) from Athlete Del Dol, ridden by Tina Henriksson.

The race was the first of its kind to be organised by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Global Arabian Racing Festival with a second of the series scheduled to be slotted in the 2011/12 Emirates Racing Authority's calendar of events.

Al Marr, 17 and Al Hajjaj, 26, have been riding in endurance races and had a month to prepare for their debut on the flat.

They raced on the galloping track of the endurance stables in Seeh Al Salam, Dubai, and spent a week in Paris with the horses to get used to European conditions before flying to Holland for the race.