The Al Shira’aa Horse Show kicks off the first of six events of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Equestrian Festival at Al Forsan International Sports Resort from Thursday.
The showjumping competition, with a total prize fund of €350,000, is highlighted by the FEI CSI Al Shira’aa 4-Star Grand Prix, and has drawn more than 450 horses as well as riders from 36 countries in various competitions over four days.
The Al Shira’aa Showjumping competition is followed by the President’s Cup from January 19 to 22 and the Fatima bin Mubarak Academy four-day competition from January 26 to 29.
The venue will host two Arabian Horse Shows in February and then conclude with the Al Forsan’s first international 3-Star Showjumping competition in March.
“The Abu Dhabi Equestrian Festival is a new and unique concept to have all the major equestrian events at one venue across 45 days,” Mohammed Al Nakhi, vice president of the Showjumping and Dressage Committee, said at the launch ceremony of the event on Tuesday.
“Previously, we organised the equestrian events at different times of the year at different venues and locations.
“With the vision of our leadership and co-ordination with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, we combined all our efforts together to come up with the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Festival.
“We are blessed to have one of the best winters around the world and by staging six major events from the middle of January to early March at one venue provides us with the opportunity to run a cost-effective and logistically easier programme.”
The Al Shira’aa Showjumping competition has drawn some of the top riders from around the world, including Olympians Shane Breen from Ireland, and Italian Emanuele Gaudiano.
Challenging them are local stars Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum, Nadia Taryam, Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri and Omar Al Marzooqi, silver medallist at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018.
“It’s going to be a quality field with back-to-back competitions – the Al Shira’aa event followed by the President’s Cup in the following week,” Al Nakhi said.
“The President’s Cup will serve as the Middle East Qualifier for the Nations Cup final in Barcelona in October.
“In addition to that, the Al Shira’aa 4-Star and President’s Cup Grand Prix will both provide riders individual qualifying points for the Olympics. In the Olympics, there is individual and team events.”