SAVING HER BEST for last Switzerland national team rider Janika Sprunger turned in a mighty performance aboard Bacardi VDL to win the feature event of the Dubai Show Jumping Championship at Emirates Equestrian Centre last week. The pair were in fine form and won the Dh612,050 CSI 5*-W Emirates Airline Dubai Grand Prix with a flawless ride in a time of 49.96 seconds. Sprunger’s success earned her Dh200,000 and moreover highlighted a brilliant day for women riders, who won all three events that had been pencilled in for the fourth and final day of the competition. Other winners on the day included Sweden’s Charlotte McAuley who won the Dh125,000 CSI 2* Meydan Grand Prix with Valentino Tuliere, and Georgia Tame of Britain who won the Dh119,000 CSI 5*-W Longines Accumulator Class aboard Z7 Caretina.
The Dubai Grand Prix was contested across two rounds with the top 25% of riders advancing to the final round where they battle against time and penalties. Sprunger was the last to ride and one of only nine that had made it to the second round from a field of 36 that represented 22 countries between them. Ranked number 114 in the world, Sprunger was thrilled after clocking 49.96s which turned out to be the quickest, with second placed Italian rider Paolo Paini being timed at 51.29s aboard Ottava Meraviglia Di Ca’San G. In third place was Germany’s Philipp Weishaupt who was quicker over the course with 47.85s, but registered one fault.
Weishaupt had booked his spot having won the Dh389,000 CSI 5*-W Longines FEI Jumping World Cup qualifier class aboard Belo Horizonte. Speaking afterwards, Janika Sprunger said: “I am over happy right now because I have such a fabulous horse and he deserves to win. I am happy I could keep everything together to make this happen. I am really happy I had a chance to come and compete here in Dubai. The people are very nice and supportive and I feel very blessed. “This is an important win because it isn’t often that I win a 5* event. A lot of placements, but a win not so often. This one is a big one for me.” McAuley was the first to win on the day, which started with the CSI 2* Meydan Grand Prix. Riding 10yo Valentino Tuliere, McAuley won through a jump-off in a winning time of 41.54s. A total of 27 riders started the event, with the Swede one of three among seven to ride flawlessly in the second round.
McAuley said: “My horse was placed every day, he was second the first two days and today he won. He is a very nice horse that I bred myself, so it is even more gratifying for me to get this win. “The experience in Dubai has been very good, the location is fantastic and the facilities are great. It is very different from conditions in Europe, but different in a good way.” Emirates’ Abdul Rahman Ahmed Ameen finished second to McAuley aboard 10yo Newton Abbot with 43.71s on the clock. Abdul said: “First of all I would like to congratulate Charlotte McAuley for a great win, and my brother Ali Qassimi for achieving third place. This is my second show with this horse (Newton Abbot). He is a new horse for me and we are trying to build a long relationship with him; I hope we are successful. I really enjoy coming to Dubai, the show here is always amazing.”
Next up was the Longines Accumulator Class which saw Tame live up to her name. The Briton aboard Z7 Caretina started from a field of 40 of 22 nationalities, out of which just seven riders completed the course with the maximum score possible of 65. Tame was quickest with a time of 49.88s, while Ireland’s David Simpson was a very close second with 49.97s. Thailand’s Janakabhorn Karunayadhaj was third with 53.28s. Tame said: “There was a lot of top riders in the field with a lot more experience than me and my horse, who has just turned eight a few weeks ago, and this is her first 5* event. The class was done as fast as you can in just one round and then the joker at the end caught a lot of people out. But Shane (Breen) told me to move everywhere fast, and take my time at the joker.
So everywhere else we took strides out, so that at the last fence we could take a breath and slow it all down and clear that one because that is the most important one.” Simpson added: “I had a plan going in, I knew what my horse could do, I knew the number of jumps and how many strides to take, and I executed that plan. I didn’t think it was quick enough to win it, but I hoped other experienced horse/rider pairings made mistakes. It is brilliant to be on the podium.” Earlier in the competition, Portugal’s Luis Sabino Goncalves won the Dh389,000 CSI 5*-W Azizi Developments Golden Cup aboard Dominka Van De Lucashoeve with a time of 44.33s.
Linda Heed of Sweden was second on Jarvis Van D Abelendreef with 44.54s, while William Funnell of Britain finished third aboard Billy Dlamo with a time of 48.78s. Dubai Show Jumping team coach, Alice Debany Clero clinched the Dh112,000 CSI 5*-W Gulf News Cup aboard Amareusa S with a time of 38.60s, with Jorg Naeve of Germany and his ride HH Fleur finishing second with 42.06s on the clock. In third place was Tina Lund of Denmark aboard Freestyle 39, the pair clocking 43.89s. Among Emirati winners at the event were Sheikh Ali Abdulla Al Qassimi who won the Dh46,000 CSI 2* Meydan Speed Stakes aboard Saga De La Roque. Al Qassimi clocked 57.69s with compatriot Salim Ahmed Al Suwaidi second aboard Snapp Jack with a time of 58.84s.
Saudi Arabia’s Meshari Al Harbi was third with a time of 58.89s on Ferona. Mohammed Sahfi Al Remeithi was another to win an event for the UAE when he placed top in another CSI 2* event aboard Puck with a time of 63.36s. Charlotte McAuley and Al Harbi were second and third respectively. Mohammed Essa Al Adhab, general manager of Dubai Equestrian Club (DEC) said: “For me as part of the organising committee of the Dubai Show Jumping Championship 2019, we looked to give out a very strong message about our commitment to supporting equestrian events like jumping. By hosting a five-star event we were able to showcase the top riders here in the UAE. “This time we have included both fivestar and two-star events and we have opened the doors for a wide range of riders with different levels of ability.
This way if there are riders who can’t participate in the top level, there is still an opportunity for them to compete. That apart, when you have senior riders coming and competing, you give an opportunity to junior riders to learn and exchange ideas which is very important.” He added: “The five-star status has allowed us to bring in the best riders and best horses from across the world to come and compete here. Also the FEI sets a high standard for hosting a five-star event, and by organising such an event we can showcase our world-class facilities and confirm our ability to host top events here at the Dubai Equestrian Club’s Emirates Equestrian Centre.”