Tokyo Olympics 'the dream' for Abdullah Al Marri and UAE team ahead of Nations Cup at Al Forsan
President of the UAE Showjumping Cup and the FEI Nations Jumping Cup highlight the four-day event at Al Forsan International Sports Resort in Abu Dhabi
The UAE team will use the CSIO 5-star President of the UAE Showjumping Cup and the FEI Nations Jumping Cup as platforms to prepare for October’s 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifier in Morocco.
The highlight of the four-day show, starting on Wednesday, is the President of the UAE Cup on Thursday and the Nations Cup on Saturday at Al Forsan International Sports Resort in Abu Dhabi.
Abdullah Al Marri, one of four riders in the UAE’s Nations Cup team, said season-ending competitions have always been the main targets in the calendar.
“The objective of every country is to qualify for the Nations Cup final, which for me is like the Champions League in terms of football,” said the long-serving Dubai Police officer.
“However, this time the Nations Cup finals in Barcelona in October is clashing with the Olympic qualifier in Morocco - only a week separates the two competitions.
“The Olympics is once in four years and that’s where we will be heading to, perhaps, leaving our second team to compete in the Nations Cup, should we qualify.”
Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum is the only Emirati rider to qualify for an Olympics (Beijing 2008), but Al Marri is confident they can qualify as a team for Tokyo as a team.
“To go to the Olympics is the dream of everyone in sports and obviously is also our priority,” Al Marri said. “Going by the form of our horses and riders in recent times, I think we have a good chance to qualify, both as individuals and a team.”
Al Marri comes into the weekend’s competition on the back of victory in the CSI 4-star Al Shira’aa Grand Prix, atop Sama Dubai, at Al Forsan in January.
He has two horses – Sama Dubai and James VD Oude Heihoef – entered for the two main competitions and will decide which one he rides on the day of the event.
“Sama Dubai is my main ride and have been on her for more than three years,” he said. “I have been riding James for the last four months and finished fourth in the Sharjah Rulers Cup last month.”
The UAE have qualified for the Nations Cup final two years in succession, and Al Marri has no doubt they can make a third appearance in Barcelona in October.
The UAE won the Nations Challenge Cup in 2017 for the first time but failed to replicate it last year.
“That’s the biggest achievement so far in my 20 years of being in the sport,” said Al Marri. “The biggest challenge in this sport if for a rider is to get the horse what you want to do.
“That challenge grew within me. You usually ride one horse for a long time and then get them to do what you want. I found that very interesting.”
“I was a late starter to showjumping,” added Al Marri, who took up the sport at 17. “I use to play tennis and football. I knew of horses but didn’t know much of showjumping. I use to watch it on TV. I took a liking and started to ride horses.
The four-rider UAE team includes Sheikha Latifa, who will be on board Cobolt, Nadia Taryam atop Cortado and Abdullah Al Muhairi riding Cha Cha Cha.
Updated: February 19, 2019 12:21 PM