Climax to showjumping world tour in Abu Dhabi

Many of the world's top showjumpers will compete in the capital later this year in the final leg of the sport's most glamorous series.

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Many of the world's top showjumpers will compete in the capital later this year in the final leg of the sport's most glamorous series.

Abu Dhabi will stage the finale of the Global Champions Tour (GCT) joining 10 other cities including Monte Carlo, Cannes, Rio de Janeiro and Turin as one of the stops for the €1 million (Dh5m) event.

The tour begins in Doha in March and concludes in Abu Dhabi from November 10-12.

"Bookending such a high-profile tour with Middle Eastern dates reflects the region's emerging importance in the world of showjumping," a GCT spokesman said.

The three-day show will be the start of a busy week for Abu Dhabi, finishing the evening before the city hosts the Formula One grand prix at Yas Island.

"Mr Jan Tops, President of the Global Champions Tour, is constantly searching for the best opportunities to showcase showjumping on a global perspective," the spokesman said. "The UAE is growing within the sport.

"There has always been a passion for horses in the country and with a dedicated equestrian sports programme over recent years, the nation is emerging quite quickly."

The invitation-only event, to be held at the new Al Forsan Club, is expected to attract the best riders in the world. The top 30 showjumpers on the International Equestrian Federation's rankings will be invited to compete, and special invitations are likely to be made to the UAE's best riders.

Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Shakboot will compete in what will be his third year on the circuit.

"Over the past few years the number of emerging Middle Eastern riders on the European show jumping arena has grown significantly," the spokesman said.

"The UAE local and national competitions have grown in stature as have the riders and horses. The UAE has been quickly growing as a nation of talented showjumpers.

"The performances of both Sheikh Shakboot and Sheikha Latifa al Maktoum have been solid over the past few years on the European showjumping circuit."

Last year Marcus Ehning, Germany's World Cup champion, was the overall winner. He competed in every GCT show in 2010 and claimed €52,266 in prize money.

"As the UAE is the last event on the 2011 GCT calendar and also the newest inclusion to the series everyone will want to attend," said the spokesman. "It is in Abu Dhabi that the decision of the overall champion is determined. Leading riders will all want to be there and be in the running for the title."

Abdullah Humaid, the Sharjah-based UAE international rider who qualified for the World Equestrian Games in 2002, welcomed the top-flight event, but warned that it would not provide ranking points for Emirati riders who value qualification to continental championships above all else.

"It is a prestigious tour and is big money so it is a very good thing to have in our country," said the rider who does not yet know whether he will be invited to compete.

"But for me the most important thing is to qualify for the big championships. It is very good for us to get the experience of competing against the best riders in the world and that is what we will have here."