Abu Dhabi: After winning the FEI Nations Challenge Cup in Barcelona in September last year, the UAE national team riders come together for the first time in a competition in the capital.
The six-member squad will take part in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of UAE and The President of the UAE showjumping Cup at the Al Forsan International Sports Resort from February 14-17.
The squad according to Karl Schneider, the Chef D’Equipe, will be pruned down to four on Wednesday ahead of the main Grand Prix event.
“This is the first step of our preparation for the FEI World Games and the Asian Games,” said Schneider adding, “Though the event is a long way and we will be having several other competitions but this is the first hurdle in front of home fans.”
Schneider, however, is well aware that the task won’t be easy for his wards. “The expectations is high after our success in Barcelona but that is normal. We will be facing some stiff challenge as some of the best riders from Ireland and Switzerland are here. Hopefully we can impress,” said Schneider, who also revealed that the same squad comprising of Shaikh Majid Al Qasimi, Mohammad Ghanem Al Hajri, Mohammad Al Muhairi and Abdullah Al Muhairi will be there.
Apart from these four, Shaikha Latifa Al Maktoum and Mohammad Al Kumaiti are also in the squad.
A total prize money of €650,000 are up for grabs and the four day event has drawn more than 200 riders and 300 horses from 28 counties.
Major General Dr. Ahmad Nasser Al Raisi, President of the UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation, said during the announcement of the competition: “We are privileged to host the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of UAE and The President of the UAE Showjumping Cup of UAE presented by Longines. This CSI 5* event attracts the world’s best riders and is also a chance for Team UAE to compete at the top level on home soil following their success in Barcelona last year. We wish all riders taking part good luck and hope everyone enjoy the event.”