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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 April 2019

Abdullah Al Marri thrilled to win first Grand Prix on home turf at Al Shira’aa Horse Show

Emirati guides Sama Dubai to victory on final day of CSI 4-star event, beating champion Henrik von Eckermann in capital

Abdullah Al Marri is targeting a place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Courtesy Jessica Rodrigues
Abdullah Al Marri is targeting a place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Courtesy Jessica Rodrigues

Abdullah Al Marri termed as “special” his first Grand Prix win at home on Saturday.

Al Marri steered Sama Dubai to victory on the final day of the CSI 4-star Al Shira’aa Horse Show at Al Forsan International Sports Resorts in Abu Dhabi. In the process, the Emirati edged out defending champion Henrik von Eckermann of Sweden for the prize worth €62,000 (Dh261,145).

“For two years I have been waiting for this, because in the first version of the Al Shira’aa International Horse Show I made the fastest time but put the last fence down,” Al Marri said. “I can’t thank the team behind me enough.”

He was pleased with Sama Dubai's performance especially because the 13 year old mare had only just recovered from an injury.

“This is an incredible mare and she has been with me for nine years," Al Marri said. "She had some bad luck in the summer with an injury, and for a while I thought she may never compete again. But today, thanks to the amazing support of the team, she won a Grand Prix.”

Al Marri, 36, who rides for Al Shira’aa, has competed at the highest level. He won a bronze medal at the 2006 Asian Games, and went to World Cups and World Equestrian Games. He has also claimed Grand Prix classes abroad, although Saturday's win was his first in the UAE.

He was one of only nine riders to clear the 160-centimetre first round, and he and his mare were the first to go into the jump off.

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They clocked 33.07 seconds in a clear round, setting the bar for the rest of the field. The three riders to follow were unable to stay clear: Saudi Arabia’s Ramzy Al Duhami got four faults at the last fence in 33.32sec; Luis Sabino Goncalves of Portugal accumulated eight faults in a time of 35.18sec; and Ahmed Saber Hamcho from Syria received four.

Von Eckermann a faultless round on his young horse Peter Pan, but was unable to lower Al Marri’s mark. He clocked 33.35sec to finish second. Al Duhami claimed third place.

The preceding class - the CSI 4-star Zayed bin Hazza Al Nahyan prize - featured a roll-call of top names and was won by Italian Paolo Paini on Chaccolie, who went around the jump off in 33.81sec.

Goncalves rode his mare Dominka van de Lucashoeve to second place in 34.78sec and Eckermann finished third atop Lorielle, who clocked the fastest time 32.67sec but also accumulated four faults.

“I am very happy to win this show with my horse," Paini said. "She’s a young fighter horse, she is very fast and careful. She takes steps to improve and be better.

"I competed in Al Ain two years back and it was a great experience, but Al Shira’aa is a different feeling and it’s by far the best.”

The first class of the day was the Abu Dhabi Sports Council Classic Stakes, which was won by Khalid Abdulrahman Al Mobty of Saudi Arabia aboard Garizona. Trevor Breen was second for Ireland on Escapade.

Updated: January 13, 2019 01:21 PM

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