Cecilie Hatteland was thrilled to end her first showjumping campaign in the UAE on a high after she won the Grand Prix title at the FBMA International Show Jumping Cup in Abu Dhabi on Saturday night.
Hatteland clinched her third medal of what had been a nearly two-month-long tour of the country - briefly interrupted by a visit to Portugal - at the CSI 2-Star event, organised by the Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy at Al Forsan International Sports Resort.
The Norwegian rider, who had participated in eight competitions since December 27, previously won at the CSI 5-star in Sharjah and finished runner-up in 5-Star The President of the UAE Cup in the capital.
“It was a nice way to round off the competitions in the UAE," she said after collecting the largest share of the Dh650,600 prize fund.
Hatteland also said she was leaving the Emirates after having enjoyed her experience here. “I have visited the UAE before, but this was the first time for a competition. I had a very pleasant time," she gushed.
"I really enjoyed everything the country had on offer. I made a lot of friends, and learned more about the country and its people in more than a month’s stay here."
While conceding the 5-Star in Sharjah was her biggest win, Hatteland added the FBMA event was "also very prestigious for me".
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The fifth staging of the competition drew 147 riders, including 58 Emirati women, and 180 horses from 25 countries. It also saw 14 of them battle for the Grand Prix prize over three days.
Hatteland completed the 15-fence first round with a flawless ride to come off with the best time of 72.90 seconds. And going last in the jump-off, she clocked 31.46 in the six-rider field to win from Russia's Anna Gorbacheva, on Curt 13, and Briton Georgia Tame, atop Cash Up.
Sheikha Latifa bint Ahmed Al Maktoum, on board Peanuts de Beaufour, was fourth ahead of the German Miriam Schneider, who rode Benur du Romet, and Annika Sande of Norway, atop For Cash 2.
"The FBMA cup grand prix was another tough competition," Hatteland pointed out. "The jump-off was fast and I had to do everything to win it." But she made a concession: “I had the lucky position to go last. I could plan my ride going last, which was an advantage for sure."
Hatteland had arrived in the country with three horses, but all her wins came aboard Alex - a 13-year-old bay gelding whom she has partnered for the past four years. And she intended to give him a well-deserved break.
“Alex was amazing as always. Now I go to Portugal again to ride other horses. I’ll give Alex a rest. I’ll just be happy if he keeps up the same level."
It was also a good final day for Denmark's Tina Lund, who triumphed in the first and fourth category events to give her four victories in total at the event.
The second category was won by Abdul Rahman Ahmed Ameen of the UAE ahead of Saudi Arabia's Saad Al Ajami. Mailka Cora Faber from the Al Hamra Equestrian Centre finished first in the third category.