Members of the Germany team celebrate on the podium.
Team Germany made history after becoming the very first winners in the brand new Longines League of Nations series at the edge-of-the-seat opening leg at the Al Forsan International Sports Resort in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
Ireland finished second ahead of Sweden in third.
Christian Kukuk partnering Mumbai, Jorne Sprehe with Sprehe Hot Easy, David Will and My Prins van Dorperheide and Christian Ahlmann with Blueberry posted a final score of eight faults, overtaking the leading Irish who had to settle for runner-up spot when completing on a total of 12.
Hussam Zummit, Head of the Showjumping Department at the UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation, congratulated the German team on such a victory and went on to add that months of planning have paid off, with a successful show for all, while Mohammed Al Nakhi, Director of the Showjumping Committee added, “I think the new format worked really well, and kept us all on the edge of our seats until the very end. We’re looking forward to working with the FEI again for the 2025 series and will be back bigger, and better.”
The 11-team startlist was reduced to eight for the second round, and with only three of the four team-members lining out this time around the pressure was at boiling point as all three scores were counted.
Brazil slotted into fourth place at the end of the day ahead of Switzerland, USA, Great Britain and the UAE, the latter filling eighth place but not eligible for points.
The Netherlands, France and Belgium didn’t make the cut into round two.
The four-leg Longines League of Nations is open to the best ten teams in the world and now moves on to Ocala (USA) in March while St Gallen (SUI) and Rotterdam (NED) will play host in June. The series will conclude with the big Final in Barcelona (ESP) in October where the best eight teams will battle it out for the inaugural title.
Prior to the class, in an incredible display reflective of the rich cultural heritage of the UAE, the 11 participating teams proudly paraded through the arena baring their country’s flags, accompanied by falcons, decorated camels and a team of flag-bearing Arabian horses, who galloped their way through the main area adorned in traditional Arabic saddlery.
Earlier, on the final day of the President of the UAE Showjumping Cup, France took the top two places in the CSIO5* Al Shira’aa Challenge, with Kevin Staut and Visconti du Telman heading the field in this 1.50m class.
From the 42 starters, 11 riders went through to the jump-off, but Staut took the lead midway through and was too quick to catch, breaking the beam on 40.76s.
Fellow Frenchman Roger Yves Bost and Ever de Turan, a 10-year-old bay mare by Kannan jumped into 2nd place in 42.89s while Brazilian rider Luciana Diniz came in 3rd place with Clair de Lune 11 in 43.34s.
Throwing down another extraordinary performance, Emirati rider Saleh Mufrrej Ali Mohamed Alkarbi and the 15-year-old aptly named Espresso stormed to another victory in the CSICh Cavalor Children’s Cup.
14-year-old Alkarbi stopped the clock on 23.52s to take his second win of the show and hold on to his crown for another year, having won both children’s classes in the 2023 edition of the President’s Cup. Closely behind in 2nd place, jumping clear in the slightly slower time of 24.51s was another incredibly talented young Emirati, Alya Adnan Awadh Almheiri and her mare, Douwecara.
Another combination that has been on top form, they won the CHICh-A Special two phase in Sharjah last week, and the CSI2* Special two phase in Dubai last December, competing against seasoned professionals. Jordanian rider Zaid Khalaf and D’accord followed in 3rd place, with a careful clear round in 42.11s.
Emirati athletes continued to dominate the day’s second class, the CSIJ Al Forsan International Sports Resort Cup, with the top three spots going to these gifted young riders. Mabkhout Owaida Alkirbi and Pogba, an eye-catching black mare owned by Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club, headed the field with a clear in 23.76s. Just a fraction behind, and jumping into 2nd place, was another member of the Alkirbi family, Abdalla Hamad Ali Al Kirbi and Demphis.