IT was a jam-packed weekend of top class showjumping at Ghantoot Racing and Polo club. Thirteen nations came together to compete against some of the best horses and riders in the world at spectacular facilities held on the polo fields of Ghantoot.
Furisiyya FEI Nations Cup and 2016 Olympic Qualifier for GCC
Course designer Luc Masette from Belgium built a track that proved to be big, technical and tight on the clock for competitors jumping for a spot at Rio 2016. These important rounds determined which GCC team are going to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games and what European nation have more of a chance of going to the Nations Cup final in Barcelona. During mid day heat horses and riders struggled to provide clear rounds during the first round of the 1.60m course. It was only the Qatari team that managed to pull off three clears out of four but all accumulating one time penalty each.
However going into the second round they had the upper hand being on only three time faults. The French team was not far behind on a score of six faults and in third position was Germany on a score of nine. Going into the second round there was no pressure for the Qatari team, they were favourites to win and they had all the horsepower. First to go was Ali Yousef Al Rumaihi on Gunder who finished the track with an unfortunate one fence down leaving him on four faults, but, because this was the highest score for the team, it was dropped. Next up was Khaled Al Emadi on the small, dainty, bay mare Tamira. The combination provided a faultless round sending the spectators jumping up and down on their feet.
Third to go was Sheikh Ali bin Khalid Al Thani on Vienna Olympic and this combination, in the first round, had one fence down so their score was dropped. This time, Sheikh Ali was on game point producing a fantastic clear and picking up only one time fault, securing Qatar their win and enabling fourth rider of the team, Bassem Hassan Mohamed with his mount Palloubet De Halong, not to jump another round as on a score of only one time fault, the team were not able to be beaten. This secured the team a treble; a win in the CSIO 5* Furisiyya FEI Nations Cup, a placement at the 2016 Olympic Games and a placement at the Nations Cup final in Barcelona. Manager of the Qatari team for the last two years, Jan Tops, was delighted with the result commenting: “All of the horses were right on form, the riders were great, it is always a tough call to be 100% great on the day but they have confirmed their hard work over these last six months and have been extremely consistent.
They have improved so much over the last two years I have been with them. They were favourites for the Nations Cup and it is always hard to defend yourselves as favourites, but they really showed why they deserved a place at Rio 2016.” Bassem Hassan Mohamed, rider of Palloubet, one of the most expensive showjumping horses in the world was extremely thrilled with the result. Smiling hard, he said: “It was a lot of pressure today to qualify for the Olympics. Firstly I am so happy that we are the first Arab country to ever win a Nations Cup. Palloubet jumped amazingly today, he was flying and tried very hard, I am just so pleased for my team!” For the UAE team, it was a disappointing result, but the road to Rio is not over as they still have a chance to choose their shows wisely throughout the summer in order to gain points to be selected as an individual to go to the Games.If not, there is an individual Olympic Qualifier on March 6th 2016, location still unknown.
Abu Dhabi Sports Council CSI3* Grand Prix
The Dh150,000 Grand Prix went to Russia’s Vladimir Tuganov on his chestnut gelding by Mr Blue, Bluebuster. There were only two clears in the class, Vladimir himself and German rider Lars Nieberg aboard Galippo 5. Vladimir and Bluebuster won the jump off on a time of 42.51s and Lars finished in second on a time of 43.59s. Third place went to Hamed Al Maqadi from Saudi Arabia aboard Senorita, finishing the first round on one time fault, and fourth place went to David Fedric from France with the Al Asaylowned Baloussini, also finishing on one time fault. Fifth place was secured by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum’s rider, Muftah Al Dhahiri, with the bay mare Al Yamamah being the fastest four-faulter in the first round. Sixth place went to the Portuguese rider from Team Z7 with Quanita.
CSIO5* The President of the UAE Showjumping Grand Prix
With only three clear rounds out of fifty competitors in the €350,000 Grand Prix, it was Sheikha Latifa bint Ahmed Al Maktoum that did her country proud. She confirmed just how hard the course was during the press conference after her victory stating: “It was a delicate course, a fault could have happened at any fence, anywhere.” It was Sheikha Latifa’s first ever 5* win, and you could tell it meant a lot to her, hugging her big mare Peanuts De Beaufour after her jump off round. The partnership have been together for the last seven years, since Peanuts was just a 5yo, under the watchful eye of trainer Eric Levallois, French World Champion.
Eric was extremely happy for his long term student commenting: “Sheikha Latifa has worked so hard to get here, for the last 12 years that I have been mentoring her, she is always at the stables at 7am everyday. She deserves this win, I am extremely happy for her.” When asked about her partnership with her horse, Peanuts, Sheikha Latifa said: “We have grown up together and I can finally say WE did this!” After the weak performance from the UAE team on Thursday in the Olympic Qualifier, Sheikha Latifa added: “We really needed this win. Thursday was very disappointing but I think this win has lifted our spirits as a country.”
Second place went to German rider Lars Nieberg on Nabab De Revel, having one down in the jump off round and finishing two seconds behind his opposition. Lars said: “Unfortunately I did not get to watch Sheikha Latifa jump as I was busy warming my own horse up, if I had watched her, I would have seen just how fast she was, but either way I’m happy with my result.” Third place went to Moroccan rider Abdelkebir Ouaddar on Quicky De Kreisker. Having a very fast time that would have beaten Sheikha Latifa, the combination struggled and had two fences down. At the end of the day, Abdelkebir wanted to thank the UAE for putting on such a great show stating: “I would like to thank the federation and everyone involved in making this great show happen.”Long-term partners Longines wrapped up the competition by making a formal announcement: “We are proud to announce that we will be continuing our sponsorship for another year for equestrianism within the UAE. Longines have been dedicated to equestrian sports for the last 80 years; we are the official timekeepers and biggest sponsors and we look forward to another season in showjumping with the UAE.”