Luca Maria Moneta won two events on the opening day of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup and The President of the UAE Showjumping Cup at the Al Forsan International Sports Resort on Wednesday.
The Italian, 50, won two of the four prizes up for grabs in the CSI 5-star competition: the One Round Against The Clock on Neptune Brecourt (prize money of €27,660) and the One Round With Jump-Off Grand Prix qualifier atop Connery (€92,400.
“Everything fell perfect for me,” Moneta said. “Obviously a very good day and now looking forward to the rest of the competition.”
Moneta and Connery will be aiming for more glory in both the Nations Cup and the Grand Prix on Saturday.
“At first, we thought of preserving the horse for the Nations Cup before tonight’s competition but that can change after this result,” added Moneta.
“The trainer will decide if he would go for both. For me, the Nations Cup is more important because I represent my country as a team.
“This horse has won a few competitions but this is the biggest in terms of prize money. He’s also got loads of experience so we were hopeful of a good result.”
Moneta was third of 14 riders to go into the jump-off round and clocked 35.87 seconds.
Cameron Hanley of Ireland atop Quirex finished second in a time of 36.20. Philipp Weishaupt of Germany on board Asathir (36.54) was third.
“I wanted to do a quick round because I knew there were a lot of good riders after me,” Moneta said.
Moneta had earlier ridden Neptune Brecourt to a faultless round to win from another Irishman, Anthony Condon, on Zira VH Kapelhof. Pieter Clemens of Belgium astride Corelli took third spot.
Meanwhile, the UAE announced the same team and horses that won the FEI Nations Challenge in Barcelona in September for Saturday's Jumping Nations Cup in Abu Dhabi.
The four-member team are Sheikh Majid Al Qassimi (who rides Celtion), Mohammed Ghanem Al Hajri (Pour Le Poussage), Mohammed Al Muhairi (Sama Dubai) and Abdullah Al Muhairi (Cha Cha Cha).
Day 2 gets underway at 9am with the One Round Against the Clock followed by the CSI 2-Star Two Phases, the CSI 5-star Grand Prix at 3pm, and the One Round Against the Clock, the second Grand Prix qualifier.