x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Lansink relaxed ahead of opening day

The world champion is eyeing the inaugural President's Cup grand prix prize as he heads the international field of 57 riders from 16 countries.

GHANTOOT // Jos Lansink, the world champion, is eyeing the inaugural President's Cup grand prix prize as he heads the international field of 57 riders from 16 countries for a slice of the ?500,000 (Dh2,558,510) purse in the three-day championship at the Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club from today. The 48-year-old Belgian has arrived with two horses, Amour du Bois and the 12-year-old mare Valentina van't Hei, whom he intends to ride later in the year to defend his world crown at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.

Lansink will be in action in two of the three competitions in today's opening day, the EEF Trophy-Two Phase Jumping CSI 1 at 3pm and the Prize of the Maximus Air Cargo-Qualifier GP at 8pm. "The obvious target is Saturday's Abu Dhabi grand prix," said Lansink. "But getting them into a less challenging round in the opening day will benefit. The horses have settled in nicely and enjoying the sunshine. It's not difficult for them to adapt to the warmer climate than the other way around.

"Valentina likes the sand but acts on both. It's a nice looking turf here in Abu Dhabi, and she should handle it well. "This is her first competition for the year after an outing in Paris in early December. This will be part of her preparation to go to the World Equestrian Games." According to John Roche, FEI director of Jumping, the Nations Cup in Abu Dhabi serves as a qualifier for the regional teams for the Nations Cup promotional league final, saying: "The winners of this league will go on to the top league, which is eight competitions in Europe held over the summer."

Taleb Dhaher al Muhairi, the secretary general of the Emirates Equestrian Federation, added: "We wanted to have a stand-out competition in Abu Dhabi and we came with this idea. "To get some of the best riders and horses from around the world is a great step forward and we are already looking to build on this in the coming years." @Email:apassela@thenational.ae