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UAE dressage riders excel in home event

Emirati equestrian stars could claim top-three finish in FEI World Dressage Challenge

Gulf News

Dubai: The results have not yet all been counted, but the early signs show that the UAE’s dressage riders are on course for a top-three finish after an accomplished performance in the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) World Dressage Challenge on Saturday.

The FEI World Dressage Challenge is designed to allow riders in developing dressage countries to compete against foreign competitors without the need for expensive and time-consuming international travel.

Last year, the UAE finished 10th out of 53 participating countries. Lilian Sternvad, Dressage Co-ordinator at Emirates Equestrian Centre (EEC), where the UAE leg was held, said the UAE’s placing was expected to be much higher.

“The standard of tests was very high,” she said. “The feedback from the judges was very positive, and they were very impressed with the professionalism of the riders and the standard of performance.

“We don’t know the full results from all the other countries yet, but looking at the results that are in we could be inside the top three in the world.”

The FEI World Dressage Challenge, which was supported at EEC by Bonjour Equestrian Supplies, saw FEI dressage judges, Joan Macartney (CAN) and Dr Slawomir Pietrzak (POL), preside over all tests in participating countries. A league table will then be produced to cover worldwide standings in team, individual and age-group classifications.

“The World Dressage Challenge is an excellent tool for countries that don’t have their own Grand Prix,” said Sternvad, who has been organising the event at EEC since 2003. “The riders compete under international rules and at international levels against qualified riders from other countries.

“Over the years, I have seen a huge improvement on the standard of tests produced by the riders in the UAE, and all the signs show that this year will be the best results yet. There were so many riders who achieved more than 60 per cent on their tests yesterday, and that really is an excellent standard.”

As the only British Horse Society-affiliated club in the region, the EEC also operates a branch of The Pony Club, with a season-long schedule of rallies, clinics, gymkhanas and a season-ending Pony Club Camp.

For more information about EEC events, please call 050 5537 986/050 5587 656, or visit