While citing the need for Emirati riders to invest in top-quality horses, Adel Khamis says this weekend's Global Championship Tour event will give local riders a great opportunity to grow.
Khamis calls for investment when it comes to show jumping
ABU DHABI // What riders from the UAE lack in top-flight show jumping competition is quality horses, according to Adel Khamis, one of the leading Emirati riders.
He said a good show-jumping horse costs around €1 million (Dh4.9m), "and it's an investment that nobody wants to accept".
Khamis is entered in the support competition of the Global Championship Tour (GCT) at the Al Forsan International Sports Resort in Khalifa City A.
He called the competition that starts Thursday "a fantastic event" for the country to host for the first time and said it would provide opportunities for Emirati riders to participate in both the five-star and two-star competitions.
The three-day competition, for a total purse of £400,000 (Dh2.2m), will be worked off in two categories, with the five-star for the highest-ranked riders on the world circuit and the two-star a support event.
Sheikh Shakhbout bin Nahyan is the only Emirati rider to qualify for the main event; four wild-cardslots allowed for the host nation are filled by Mohammed Al Owais, Abdullah Al Marri, Mohammed Al Hajri and Ahmed Al Junaibi.
Khamis said show jumping is not as popular in the country as flat and endurance racing and does not receive the funds to invest on one horse.
"We must be realistic," he said. "In Europe, the sport is more popular and the riders receive lucrative sponsorships. They also regularly participate in the world circuit and can sustain such big cost.
He said that Sheikh Shakhbout "has invested on a good horse", but wondered whether the mount is healthy enough to compete in this event.
Added Khamis: "For those participating in both levels of the competition, it is a good preparation for the Arab Games in Doha next month. We have five entries in the five-star and around 30 in the two-star. So, in a way, this event has provided a lot of opportunities for the local riders."
Khamis has three horses entered; Cappuccino, a nine-year-old, liver-coloured chestnut gelding, is his first choice.
Khamis has regularly competed in Europe and spent more than six weeks in Germany in the summer to prepare for this event.
He said the horse has much to do with who wins the main two-star grand prix.
"You either need to buy a good horse or prepare a horse, and I have taken the second option to prepare a few of them," Khamis said. "I bought Cappuccino two years ago and he is developing into a decent horse.
"He is still young for a show jumping horse and hopefully he will improve further."
He also has a UAE-bred mare, Amalia, who is six and has "a lot of potential".
Khamis has been participating in show-jumping competitions for more than two decades and won several domestic competitions. He captured a bronze medal at the Arab Games in Saudi Arabia in 2004.
Adnan Sultan Al Nuaimi, the secretary general of the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, said the GCT was the second five-star competition to be staged in Abu Dhabi, after the Nations Cup in 2009.
"It is a significant development because it is such events that can improve our chances to hold more high-profile competitions and provide our riders and horses more opportunities," said Al Nuaimi, a former rider himself.