Dubai: Emirates Equestrian Centre (EEC) is set to attract some of the UAE’s top showjumpers this weekend, when it hosts its first Dh110,000 National Showjumping Event of the season, part of the Emirates Longines Showjumping League.
Dubai Showjumping Team and UAE international rider, Abdullah Al Merri, who is based at EEC, will have a busy weekend. Not only will he compete on his old campaigner, Randor K and champion speed horse, Alaska, but he is also using the two-day show as an opportunity to bring on five young horses with a long-term view to qualification to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
Al Merri, 27, who has competed for his country at the Asian Games as well as the 2008 FEI Showjumping World Cup, claimed both Young Horse Classes last year with Alaska and won the Big Tour class with Randor K.
In the short-term he is also using the show, held on Friday and Saturday, as a warm up for the Global Champions Tour to be held in Abu Dhabi later this month.
“I have been very successful at this show so of course I am hopeful that I can do well again,” says the Dubai policeman, who earned a team bronze at the 2006 Asian Games in Qatar.
“Randor K is 15 now, so he is an older horse and Alaska is an excellent speed horse but is not suitable for the bigger classes so over the next few seasons I will be focusing on developing these younger horses.”
Al Merri identified the EEC’s Training Showjumping League, which runs alongside the Emirates Longines Showjumping League, as a key tool for improving young horses.
“The EEC has been doing so much to support its riders and to give us the best chance to qualify for major international events,” said Al Merri, who will face stiff competition from EEC riders as well as competitors from the all the other equestrian clubs in the country.
“Leagues like the Emirates Longines Showjumping League and the Training Showjumping League are really valuable in helping us to get into a position where we can fight for qualification to things like the World Equestrian Games in 2014 or the Olympics.”
As well as the serious business of showjumping, the National Showjumping Event will also feature free entertainment for youngsters including pony rides and a bouncy castle as well as catering from the nearby Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa.
The show, which features seven classes on Friday and Saturday, starts from 3pm and entrance is free. For more information and driving directions visit www.emiratesequestriancentre.com