Kristaps Neretnieks and Moon Ray
Image credit: Al Shira'aa Horse Show Media/@hcruden
The second week of the Al Shiraa’a International Horse Show hosted by the Al Forsan International Sports Resort in Abu Dhabi came to an end yesterday with the showpiece event - the Al Shira’aa CSI3* Grand Prix presented by Longines. Spectators saw a 49 strong field of elite showjumpers take on the course designed by Bernardo Costa Cabral aiming to win a share of the €51,000 (AED 208,000) prize fund which was shared between the top 13 riders. Cabral is a FEI Level 4 course designer, and challenged the field with 13 obstacles and 16 jumping efforts.
After a hugely entertaining opening round, the top six riders entered the jump-off.
First rider in was Jack Ryan from Ireland on Essenar High Hopes. Completing a smooth round he came away with an unfortunate eight faults in a time of 37.86. Jack Whitaker followed, on Elucar V.E. Always a fighter against the clock Jack gave the first clear in a time of 38.50. Next up, was our man from Jordan, Ahmed Mansour on Estoril de Vardag. Estoril is a super quick horse, but with two fences down and finishing in a time of 41.62 Mansour went into third. Next in was Kristaps Neretnieks. After a very strong fourth place finish in the Puissance the night before, what could he produce? A super quick and clear round took him and his horse Moon Ray to the top of the leaderboard in a time of 34.79.
With two riders left to go, the standard had well and truly been set. William Funnell and Billy Diamo we next in. Billy is an impressive big horse that covers a lot of ground, but couldn’t quite match the speed of Moon Ray and the pair went into second with a time of 37.75. Last to go was KSA’s Khaled Abdulrahman Al Mobty - a favourite on the circuit, riding Soccero 2. Khaled performed well, but with eight faults finished with a time of 37.14.
With that we had our winner! Kristaps Neretnieks from Latvia with Moon Ray took the title of Al Shira’aa CSI3* Grand Prix Champion, presented by Longines.
Ranked 97th in the FEI Longines rankings, 31year-old Kristaps is on something of a run having won the Abu Dhabi CSI4*-W on January 3rd with Moon Ray - a 15 year-old Westphalian gelding (Cornet Obolenski/Contender). Moon Ray has produced over 115 wins in his career so far.
After taking the title, Kristaps said: “I feel great and so happy to be competing in Abu Dhabi. The competition is perfect. Moon Ray had some issues in the last show, and today he was also a little tricky in the last line, but he did it and I am very happy with him.”
Week three of the Al Shira’aa International Horse Show will begin January 22nd and will include the Al Shira’aa Longines Grand Prix on the final day.
Full Results of the Al Shira’aa International Horse Show CSI3* Grand Prix:
1st - Kristaps Neretnieks - LAT on Moon Ray (Cornet Obolensky/Contender)
2nd - William Funnell - GBR on Billy Diamo (Cevin Z/Andiamo)
3rd - Jack Whitaker - GBR on Elucar V.E (Cardento/Lupicor)
4th - Khaled Abdulrahman Al Mobty - KSA on Soccero 2 (Singulord Joter/Casall)
5th - Jack Ryan - GBR on Essenar High Hopes (Phin Phin/Indoctro)
6th - Ahmed M.N Mansour - JOR on Estoril de Vardag (Vaillant/Conway)
Check out Kristap Neretnieks' winning round on his YouTube channel below: