Dubai: The UAE show jumping team added more fuel to their Olympic dream by securing one of two coveted spots available to the Middle East Division for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Finals in Barcelona in October with a solid display in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup on Saturday evening.
Demonstrating that team chemistry is a critical element Olympian Shaikha Latifa Al Maktoum; HH Ruler of Sharjah Cup Grand Prix winner, Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi; Al Shira’aa Grand Prix winner, Abdullah Al Marri and Nadia Taryam combined effectively to finish third following a tense final day’s action at Al Forsan International Sports Resort in Abu Dhabi.
We only hope to get better from here. We have a fantastic team and a fantastic bunch of horses. For us the Olympic qualifier in October is our goal.
Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia finished on 18 penalty points after two gruelling rounds of competition, however, the UAE’s faster time ensured they would finish third.
Show jumping powerhouse Germany were crowned champions accumulating just six faults across two rounds with Ireland bagging the runner-up sport.
Egypt finished fifth, Jordan sixth and Syria seventh.
Shaikha Latifa, who competed at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, succinctly summed up the teams hopes and aspirations.
“We only hope to get better from here,” she said. “We have a fantastic team and a fantastic bunch of horses. For us the Olympic qualifier in October is our goal at the moment.
“We have such good chemistry as a team and it even makes me comfortable going in first although there’s always a bit of pressure doing that. But these guys had my back so I wasn’t worried at all.”
Nations Cup debutant Taryam said: “I had something to prove being on my first proper Nations Cup with a horse that I’ve had since he was a five year old.
“So finishing with this result is extra special for me. I think now if we have a good plan and good team around us that can take us far in the future.”
Al Muhairi, who has delivered some strong performance this season, and has been the backbone of the team commented: “I think we showed everybody in the Middle East that we are a really good team.
“Thanks God we qualified (for the Nations Cup Finals).”
Al Marri agreed that the great chemistry that the team share has been a vital factor to the results that they have achieved. “We are still a young team but we’re gaining in experience. I think the future is bright,” he said.
“Talking about chemistry, in this sport it not only about the 60 seconds you see us perform in the ring. There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes with the vets, the farriers.
“All of us have to make a lot of sacrifices but you also need a little luck so that things peak at the right time. Hopefully they will do in Barcelona.”
Meanwhile, the UAE came in for some unexpected praise from Germany’s Philipp Weishaupt who described them as a team going places.
“They are doing a tremendous job and have been growing stronger the last couple of years,” he said.
“I’m sure they will be on the podium many, many times in the future. They are great horsemen and they know what they are doing.”
The Nations Cup of Jumping finals in Barcelona is the most prestigious show jumping series for national teams in the world and also offers the last remaining qualifying spot for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games for the team who places highest among those who have not already qualified.