Image credit: Al Shiraa'a Horse Show/ HCRUDEN
The three-week Al Shira’aa Horse Show held at the Al Forsan Sports Complex in Abu Dhabi came to a close yesterday evening, with the Al Shira’aa Longines Grand Prix event taking centre stage. With riders keen to claim their share of the €96,000 euro prize fund, but also potentially qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, it was all to play for. European riders had taken top honours at the week-two Grand Prix finale, so GCC riders were ready to put their name on the title and came out battling.
However, the fiendishly complex course laid out by course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral proved to be the undoing of many, with only seven out of the top twelve riders qualifying for the jump-off with clear rounds.
When it came to deciding the winner, all eyes were fixed on Michael Pender, who, having won the Derby competition on Friday, was looking to take the double. He rode HHS Calais through a daring double clear round, making some impressively tight turns in the jump-off, and went top with a time of 39.88, overtaking Chad Fellows who had put himself into contention with a double clear in a jump-off time of 40.24 on Vinci de Beaufour.
However, it was not to be Pender’s night. Egypt’s Abdel Saïd rode Arpege du Ru through a carefully judged round. Pushing hard between the jumps, he pipped Pender to the post with a time of 39.49.