Dubai: UAE Asian Games and Olympic Team rider Omar Abdulaziz Al Marzooqi took the top spot in the Virtus Grand Prix at the Virtus CS12* International Show Jumping Cup, held at the Emirates Equestrian Centre. He headed an all-UAE podium aboard his Olympic hopeful Enjoy De La Mure.
The combination was one of only three clears in the first round, and the only to finish clear in the complex jump off in a time of 45.24 seconds. This is only his second show riding the promising Al Shira’aa-owned 9-year-old stallion, with whom he’s been partnered with for little over a month.
A total of 292 horses competed at the event with riders from 31 nations competing for a prize fund of Dh330,000. In only its second edition, this new fixture in the UAE’s ever-growing equestrian calendar has seen a sharp increase in entries and received high praise from competitors and officials.
Day one saw a female-dominated leaderboard, with young Emirati rider Alya Adnan Awadh Al Mheiri riding Douwecara to take the first place in The Date Room 110cm in a strong field of 96 riders. The 13-year-old rider, who is based at Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club, jumped clear in 58.27 seconds, narrowly pipping Nawader Omar Saeed Alnabooda to the podium.
Top honours in the 120cm Special Two Phase sponsored by Al Sakb Equestrian went to USA’s Talya Ismail Mounajed atop Quite Van Koekshof. The third class, the Majesticq Royal Care 130cm Speed Round, went to Boushra Al Assad of Syria riding Leeland jumping clear in a phenomenal 58.11 seconds. Salim Ahmed Al Suwaidi and his Asian Games mount Diamond Way took the final class of the day, winning the UAEERF 140cm Grand Prix Qualifier jumping clear in 73.62 seconds.
Fun and fanciful constumes
Day two saw Syria’s Boushra Al Assad and Leeland take to the podium once more, winning the Majesticq Royal Care 135cm Speed Round in 57.66 seconds. Mohamed Osama Al Zabibi riding Monella, also from Syria, placed first in The Date Room Costume Class. This 110cm accumulator saw riders jump in fun and fanciful costumes that included Shrek’s Princess Fiona atop Donkey, Mario and Luigi and Princess Jasmine. The UAE’s Eissa Yousuf Abdulla Al Mulla took first place in the Virtus 120cm Accumulator, which once again saw riders jump in an array of costumes. Sara Hussein Saleh Al Armouti of Jordan won the day’s final class, the Animo 145cm Grand Prix Qualifier, jumping clear in 58.18 seconds, finishing just ahead of the UAE’s Omar Abdulaziz Almarzooqi on his new ride Doubai De Hus.
The final day began with a clear round from the UAE’s Humaid Abdullah Khalifa Almheiri on Leestone Mylord Trumps who went on to win the Majesticq Royal Care 135cm in a quick 67.90 seconds. The mare was purchased by Al Shira’aa as a foal and has been Humaid’s mount for the past year and is a promising combination for the future. Class two saw 82 competitors in The Date Room 110cm Two Phase, with top honours going to Bulgaria’s Nastassia Klats on Casall Lady Z who jumped a double clear.
The show concluded with the ShakoMakoApp 120cm Final, with the youngest rider in the class, 12-year-old Mabkhout Owaida Alkarbi from the UAE taking first place in a huge class of 79 starters.
Partner with DIMC
In a world first, the Virtus team partnered with the Dubai International Marine Club to showcase the Victory Team powerboats, which took centre stage in the arena. “On behalf of the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC), I’m delighted to be participating in a prestigious sporting event such as Virtus International Show Jumping Cup 2023, which brings together the world’s elite riders and horses in a major sporting challenge on the land of the UAE,” said Mohammed Abdullah Hareb Al Falahi, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai International Marine Club.
“Our club plays an inspiring role in promoting and spreading marine sports by reviving the heritage of our ancestors, providing opportunities for marine enthusiasts to compete fairly, introducing the world to our relationship with the heritage and the sea, and participating in international sporting events, in which our team (Victory) has become a landmark in the history of powerboat racing, becoming the No 1 in the competition for titles, and also providing a unique product bearing the phrase ‘Made in the UAE’.”