The oldest equestrian club in the UAE, the Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club (SERC), has been handed an upgrade in terms of class and will go down in regional jumping folklore this week as the first venue to host an indoor five star event when it hosts the HH Ruler of Sharjah Cup Show Jumping Championship, sponsored by Longines. The competition is being held in the name of His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and under the patronage of HH Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qassimi, the Crown Prince of Sharjah.
The event has been bestowed with five star status by the FEI and is the first of its kind indoors in the entire Middle East. Organised by the Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club, the total prize purse on offer at the event is a staggering Dh2.35 million. SERC Director General, Sultan Khalifa Al Yahya’ie told Al Adiyat that the event’s upgrade to a five star status was much needed and will help elevate SERC’s status to one of the top equestrian clubs in the country. “This is a very unique event, because not only is our event being given a five star status, but it is also the first of its kind to be held indoors anywhere in the Middle East,” Al Yahya’ie said.
“This is a great opportunity for us to showcase to the world that we too have the infrastructure needed to host a world class event such as this. We have been working hard to bring such events to the UAE and we have the backing of the FEI and five star status means some of the top show jumpers from around the world will be arriving here for the competition. “The quality of both local and international riders that will participate in the event is brilliant and this is great experience for our riders to get a feel of what they can expect when they travel overseas to participate in international tournaments.”
The competition will be spread over four days from 31 January to 3 February and is the last Arab League tournament to serve as a qualifier for the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Finals in Paris, France, from 10-15 April. Organisers have woven together a tight schedule with the event calendar including a number of smaller events to serve as qualifiers to the bigger and more lucrative competitions. And while there are events for all age groups of riders and horses, competitions catering to the more experienced and high profile riders include a qualifier for the FEI World Cup Grand Prix, a Two Phases and Speed Class event and a Puissance competition. The four days of action will culminate with the feature CSI 5*-W HH Ruler of Sharjah Cup, presented by Longines.
Al Yahya’ie said competitions will be held outdoors as well on the sidelines of the main event. Additionally, delegates from the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), including FEI President Ingmar De Vos, will meet at a conference in Sharjah to discuss new rules that are to be incorporated in future events. Workshops have also been planned during the course of the event. “All this is being done to enhance the quality of our riders. Our aim is to produce some really good riders and jumpers who will one day go on and move upwards and bring a lot of success to the country,” Al Yahya’ie said. “The goal is not just to hold a competition of the highest level and host it successfully like we have done over the years, but to have an event that helps us nurture our local talent and gives them the experience needed to compete against the very best competitors in the world.”
The event is sponsored by Longines, the Sharjah Sports Council, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, Al Shira’aa Stables, Sharjah Islamic Bank, Sharjah Equine Hospital, Sharjah Sports Channel, Al Marwan Group, Cavallo, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sharjah University City Club, Sharjah Old Cars Club, Sharjah Heritage Club, and Al Rawabi. Patrick Aoun, Regional Brand Manager, Longines Middle East, highlighted the Swiss watch maker’s partnership with the event saying: “We’re been doing it for so long that we believe, very deeply, that equestrian sport shares our core values. So when you identify your core values you know where to go.”