Natalie Lankester and Cash DXB will carry the UAE’s hopes in the Asian Games Individual Dressage Freestyle final at the TL Equestrian Centre in Hangzhou.
Having posted a competitive score of 64.882 on top of the 16-year-old gelding in her qualifying round on Wednesday, Lankester then had a short but anxious wait for the final rider to complete her turn during Wednesday’s opening session, before her participation in Thursday's final was confirmed.
She made the cut along with 14 others and spoke of her pride at representing the UAE in the continental competition.
“It’s been an incredible experience so far and I’m proud and eternally grateful to have the opportunity to represent my country,” said Lankester.
“For the first time at such a championship, I couldn’t have asked for more from Cash. He felt with me the whole time and even though we can still improve on many small points, it was a great test. I’m excited for tomorrow’s Freestyle and will give it my all.”
The UAE Dressage team, who have only been competing together as a unit for the first time this year, have already seen some impressive results.
They include multiple podium places on the European circuit over the summer, with Lankester and Mohamed Jassim Al Serkal taking first place in the CDIAm in Crozet and the CDIAm in Deauville, respectively.
India’s Hriday Vipul Chheda, on top of Chemxpro Emerald (73.883), topped the qualifying round, followed by Malaysia's Bin Mahamad Ambak on Rosenstolz in second and Jacqueline Wing Ying of Hong Kong aboard Jockey Club Huittharien who placed third.
Like Lankester in the realm of equestrian, Sultan Al Nuaimi will be the lone flag bearer for the UAE when he returns to the boxing arena on Thursday.
The Emirati policeman takes on Zohaib Rasheed of Pakistan in the 51-kilogram round of 16. Rasheed boxes in the competition for the first time after receiving a bye in the first round.
“I had a nice little break since my first fight on Monday and feel confident to continue with my progress in the competition,” said Al Nuaimi, who became the first Emirati to win a bout at the Asian Games after his second round knockout Laos's Vanesy Heuangthisouan on Monday.