UAE confident of strong showing at Al Shira’aa International Horse Show
Taking place at Al Forsan International Sports Resort, the event will see some of the world's leading showjumpers compete in the Emirates.
After their success in September at the Longines FEI Nations Challenge Cup in Barcelona, the UAE national team riders return to action in the CSI 4-star Al Shira’aa International Horse Show at the Al Forsan International Sports Resort from Wednesday.
The four-day showjumping competition has drawn more than 153 riders and 220 horses from 26 countries, all vying for a slice of the €200,000 (Dh876,000) prize fund and a qualifying place at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in the United States of America.
Among the leading international riders competing are Olympians Jos Lansink from Belgium, Sweden's Henrik von Eckermann and Briton Nigel Coupe, who won the 2017 Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby.
“The Nations Cup was a world event for which we worked throughout the year to qualify and then win the Challenge Cup,” said Omran Ahmed Al Owais, the event president, at the launch ceremony on Tuesday.
“The Al Shira’aa International Horse Show is another important event. However, it’s a normal 4-star competition and cannot be compared to the Nations Cup.
“Obviously everyone who arrived for this competition will want to win and qualify for the FEI World Games.”
Winning the Nations Challenge Cup was the UAE team’s biggest success on the world stage. By doing so, they had to overcome several of the world’s leading showjumping countries including Ireland, Great Britain, Brazil and Spain.
“This is another important year for the UAE team with both the World Equestrian Games and the Asian Games in Jakarta taking place in the summer,” Al Owais said.
“Winning the Nations Challenge Cup was fantastic. We want to build on that success from last year. This competition in Abu Dhabi is a big test of our riders to start the year.”
The UAE team at the Nations Challenge Cup comprised Abdullah Al Muhairi, Ghanem Al Hajri, Sheikh Majid Al Qassimi, Abdullah Al Marri and Abdullah Al Kumaiti, and they will once again carry the host team’s hopes.
Dr Ghanim Al Hajiri, general secretary UAE Equestrian Racing Federation, said this event will provide local riders the opportunity to compete at home and a truly international stage.
“The Al Shira’aa Horse Show is an important event on the global showjumping calendar offering a platform for local talent to compete against international stars in FEI-affiliated classes,” he said.
“There are classes for young riders, juniors and young horses as well as five ranking classes for CSI4* competitors seeking World Equestrian Games qualification.”
France's Adeline Hecart, on Pasha Du Gue, won the inaugural Grand Prix prize at the Al Shira’aa event last year.
Saudi Arabia's Khaled Abdulrahman Al Mobty, on Zypern, took second spot from Bahrain's Khalid Hilal Al Khatri astride Awal and Abdullah Al Marri atop Sama Dubai.
Updated: January 9, 2018 06:15 PM