Maria Perez claims Grand Prix prize Fatima bint Mubarak Academy International Showjumping Cup
ABU DHABI // Maria Perez has lofty ambitions. The Germany-based Puerto Rican rider has her eyes set on the Olympics after claiming her first international Grand Prix prize at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Saturday.
Perez on-board Quitana II emerged winner of the CSI Ladies 2-Star prize, the finale of the two-day competition of the fourth Fatima bint Mubarak Academy (FBMA) International Showjumping Cup.
“It’s my first international Grand Prix win and I managed to do it on the last day of my two-month stay in the Emirates,” said Perez who was heading straight to the airport from the competition arena.
“I travelled to the Emirates to participate in competition. It was my first visit to the country and managed to win placed-prizes in three Grand Prix events before Abu Dhabi, which turned out to be a dream come true.
“The experience has been amazing. Now I go back to Germany and prepare for the competition in Europe and work in improving my rankings.”
Perez finished fifth on the opening day’s Small Grand Prix, the CSI Ladies 2-Star One Round Against the Clock, on the her 11-year-old bay mare.
“I’m into full time riding and have been doing it for the past three years since I moved to Germany four years ago,” said Perez.
“The horse travelled with me and she’s improving all the time. She belongs to a family in Europe. I’m thankful to them and glad they allowed me to ride her in the competitions.
When asked of her long-term objectives as a professional rider, Perez said: “For me, to one day, hopefully, represent my country at the Olympics. I’m 25 and the good thing about this sport is age doesn’t become a barrier.”
Perez clocked 36.43 seconds in the jump-off to get the better of Italian Noemi Oggioni (37.33) on Payse Heitiere and Emirati Nadia Taryam (75.54) on-board Cortado, an eight-year-old grey stallion.
“I’m very glad with the third-place finish,” said Taryam, the host nation’s sole flag bearer in the international division.
“I got a very young horse and he’s not very experienced. To achieve this result against all these competitive riders and horses, I feel very happy for this.”
Taryam will give the horses a two-week break ahead of the Emirates Championship and then plans to head to Europe for a summer camp from April to August.
“I want to get some international placings in other countries and then return to the country with my horses stronger,” she added.
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