Sharjah: New Zealand’s Bruce Godin could not have chosen a better stage or time to capture his first five-star title when he delivered two flawless rounds in the prestigious HH Ruler of Sharjah Cup presented by Longines FEI World Cup qualifier at the Sharjah Equestrian Club on Saturday evening.
Riding the 12-year-old Dutch gelding Backtorps Danny V, he completed the course in a best time of 34.68 seconds with zero penalties to take home a winner’s purse of €49,5000.
Germany’s Christian Ahlmann and Solid Gold Z finished their second round in 35,27 seconds, just 0.03 seconds faster than talented Egyptian horseman Abdel Said with Alanine de Vains to clinch the second place.
However, the bigger news of the day was the qualification of the UAE’s defending Sharjah Cup champion Abdullah Al Muhairi and his teammate Abdullah Al Marri to this year’s FEI World Cup in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Joining them on the plane to America will be Saudi Arabia’s Olympian Abdullah Al Sharbatly — all three riders grabbing the three berths for the best in the Arab League.
“It’s a big relief to qualify as I don’t believe that I have performed anywhere near my best,” said Muhairi. “Things have not being going to plan, for various reasons, but I managed to pull it off and can now look to Las Vegas with a lot of confidence.
“It’s great that Abdullah (Al Marri) and Abdullah (Sharbatly) also qualified, so three Abdullahs will be representing the Arab League of jumping in Vegas.
“Personally, I have a lot of work to do to improve my skills but I’m ready to put in the hard work to ensure that I become a better rider in time for the World Cup.”
New Zealand’s Godin, who was at the top of his game in the face of fierce competition from some of the best international jumpers from around the world, said he was ‘over the moon’ to have won such a prestigious event at the HH Ruler of Sharjah Cup.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to get this win,” he said. “My horse tried very hard and ran his heart out. He just gave me the feeling that he wasn’t going to do anything wrong on this day and he did not.
“I’m over the moon this is my very first five-star win and for it to come at such a prestigious event, makes it even more special.”
The competition played a major role in qualifying three riders from the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf and two from North Africa (among the Group VII in the International Equestrian Federation) to the Las Vegas Showpiece.
The final day’s competition was witnessed by Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmed Al Qassimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Corporation, President of the championship, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Majid Al Qassimi, Chairman of Sharjah Equestrian & Racing Club, Honorary President of the championship, Dr. Ghanem Al Hajri, Secretary General of the Equestrian Federation, and Sami Al Dahami, Chairman of FEI Group VII Finals, Patrick Aoun, Regional Brand Manager of Longines, principal sponsor of the HH Sharjah Grand Prize, and Sultan Al Yahyaee, General Manager of Sharjah Equestrian & Racing Club and Championship Manager.
“It is always a pleasure to host an event of this stature,” said Al Yahyaee. “Every year we try to make it bigger and better and will continue to produce our best effort over the new years as well to raise the standard of the HH Ruler of Sharjah Cup.
“I was particularly pleased with the high standard of competition and of the performance of the Arab riders who were competing alongside of the best jumpers from around the world.
“Special mention to our juniors who are the stars of tomorrow who are coming along very nicely and I’m sure you are going to hear a lot about this group of youngsters in the years to come,” Al Yahaee added.