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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Von Eckermann aims to build on Al Shira’aa International Horse Show success

The Swede targets victory in Dubai after his triumph at Saturday's event at the Al Forsan International Sports Resort in Abu Dhabi

Henrik von Eckermann was the winner of the Al Shira'aa International Horse Show. Khushnum Bhandari /  The National
Henrik von Eckermann was the winner of the Al Shira'aa International Horse Show. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Henrik von Eckermann is hoping to replicate his success in the Longines CSI 4-star Grand Prix at the Al Shira’aa International Horse Show when he competes in Dubai this weekend.

The Swedish World No 8 produced a flawless round on Chacanno to win the top prize on the concluding day of the four-day show at the Al Forsan International Sports Resort in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

“I wish I can match the same performance in Dubai this coming weekend,” said Eckermann after the victory.

“I compete in Dubai next and fly back for my home World Cup qualifier, and then back in the Emirates to continue with the competitions at Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi again.”

In Dubai, Eckermann will be eying the CSI 5-star Emirates Airline Dubai Grand Prix, an FEI World Cup qualifier and the concluding event of the three-day competition at the Emirates Equestrian Club from Thursday to Saturday.

At the Al Shira’aa event, Eckermann clocked 39.65 seconds after entering the arena fourth in the 12-rider jump-off.

Philipp Weishaupt of Germany on Che Fantastica had completed the round in 40.86.

“Philipp was before me and he had a good time that put a bit of pressure on my shoulders,” said the Swede.

“I knew I had to risk a little bit and go a little bit. Philipp started off with five strides and I wanted to do that but then I realised that was too long, so I did six. Then I knew I had to get going so I got going.

“My horse was amazing. He is very, very careful and then when it comes to the jump off he’s a very quick horse. So I knew I could win it I just had to do the right thing.”

With eight riders still to complete the round, Eckermann had to endure an anxious wait for the remaining riders to complete the challenging nine fences set at 1.60m before celebrating the success.

It was also the biggest success for the horse and Eckermann said he almost lost him after the owners sold him.

“I had him for about a year until he was sold,” he said. “But he was bought back six months later. I’m very happy he has now delivered, and perhaps, this can be the turning point for him after the success at this level.”

The Grand Prix drew 42 riders and 12 qualified for the jump-off that also included Belgian Jos Lansink, six-time Olympic rider and former World and European Champion and team Olympic gold medalist.

Lansink on his 10 year old bay stallion Valdelamadre Clooney could finish only seventh after clocking 50-21 with four penalties.

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Also in the group were Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Sharbatly, the Olympic bronze medalist and World Equestrian Games silver medalist.

He finished fifth on Crazy Quick in a time of 44.48 with four penalties.

Italy’s Natale Chiaudani on Almero in a time of 46.92 took third spot ahead of Saudi Arabia’s Ramzy Al Duhami on Ted (41.34 with 4 penalties).

Earlier in the opening class, the Longines International Jumping with Jump Off was won by Emirati Mohammed Shafi Al Remeithi atop the grey mare Doxanne B I a time of 31.52.

Ahmed Mansour of Jordan on Estoril de Vardag (31.82) was runner up in the event ahead of Denmark’s multiple champion, Tina Lund on Payse Heutiere (32.08).

Shane Breen collected his fourth prize in the four-day competition by taking the Sheikh Zayed bin Haza Al Nahyan International Jumping Competition with Jump Off.

The Irishman rode Laith in a time of 33.63 to get the better of Eckermann on Artiste de l’Abbaye d’Aulne (35.15) and Portugal’s Luis Sabino Goncalves atop Teck de Riverland (35.19).