Dubai: Khalid Ali Junaibi, riding Energy Al Bariya, flew the flag for the UAE when winning the newly added Dh134,654 CSI2* Dubai Equestrian Club Grand Prix on the final day of the Dubai Show Jumping Championship 2018.
Junaibi won the competitive class through a jump-off, which he completed in 40.35 seconds.
“It is amazing to win this 2* Grand Prix in Dubai,” he said.
“It was a fast class and a tough one. The first round was hard, and to finish with five riders in the jump-off made it more exciting as well. I am very pleased with my horse and my win.
“The five-star event means there are some internationally ranked players coming to our shows and our league taking the standard of competition much higher and making it more exciting. Meydan has done a great job with bringing this event here and the surface here is top-class. The advantage of the five-star event is that it encourages young budding riders but also helps our UAE team, who need to be challenged constantly especially after their win in the Nations Cup in Barcelona. Holding four-star and five-star events here really improves our riders and helps them to improve their level and match riders from Europe.”
Only 5 of 21 competitors hailing from 10 countries advanced to the jump-off. Georgia Tame of Great Britain, was a very close second, aboard Z7 Cordanos V, while Naji Rashid of Lebanon took the third spot on the podium.
On Saturday, Shane Breen of Ireland who plays a key role in the management of Z7 stables in Dubai, won the Dh128,821 Longines Accumulator Class with a maximum score of 65 in 49.22 seconds.
Speaking later, Breen said he had a clear plan ahead of the competition. “I am very proud to win for Team Z7; for all the team, it is a great achievement, may it continue. This is a five-star event and well worth that status, the footing, the facilities for both the riders and the horses are excellent. The 2012 Olympic course builder Bob Ellis is the course designer here and he has done a great job. My plan was to complete the first few jumps in quick time, and then be a little more careful for the ones after because the fences get higher and higher in the accumulator.”
David Simpson also of Ireland, who came in over a second behind the leader spoke about the rising standard of show jumping in the region. “Having a five-star event here in Dubai is incredible and it is really lifting the game here in the UAE, the result they got in Barcelona last year was incredible. There is a really tough field of riders and nothing is easy in the UAE, when you come here, you have to be on your A game.”
Four-time Olympian Ramzy Al Duhaimi of Saudi Arabia, who finished the Longines Accumulator in third place, added: “Every year we come here, there is always more competiton and more performances. The atmosphere and crowd here has been amazing, and I am always happy to be here, and I hope to be back next year as well.”
The Longines Accumulator is a special class, with each of a maximum 10 jumps being assigned points. At the end, riders have the opportunity to choose either jump number 10 or the joker. Number 10 earning them 10 points, while the joker would earn 20. Adding to the drama is the condition that if any of the fences are knocked down, the rider gets no points for the jump, except the joker, where the rider loses 20 points in the event of a knockdown.
The entertainment on the final day was headlined by the sky dive performance where two divers spun their way over the spectators with the Dubai Equestrian Club and Meydan flags flying high. The police band made an appearance, while the Z7 stables put on another incredible show featuring stunts performed to a music score.
The food trucks, face painting stalls, bouncy castle and Emirates airline mascot Shane the Koala gave the visitors plenty to do during the breaks between the three classes of the day.
Azizi Developments joined long-time EEC partners and fellow Meydan pillar partners Emirates airline, Longines and Gulf News in supporting this prominent international competition.