Abu Dhabi, UAE – 23rd February 2019: Team Z7 rider, Shane Breen and his horse, Laith combined claim victory in the AED127,000 two-star Longines Grand Prix at the President of the UAE Showjumping Cup presented by Longines on Friday evening.
Breen and Laith cut a swathe through the UAE’s Grand Prix classes in 2018, claiming the four-star Longines Al Shira’aa Grand Prix and the five-star Dubai Showjumping Championship. But injury then sidelined the 12-year-old stallion with Breen only bringing him back to competition at the start of the year.
Laith, a multiple five-star winning horse may only just be on the comeback trail yet the formidable pair wasted no time in returning to their winning ways.
Completing an imperious first-round clear, five seconds faster than the time allowed, Breen and Laith proceeded to fly round the jump-off course, toppling the in-form Tina Lund from the head of the leaderboard with their time of 39.31sec.
Denmark’s Lund and Indiana van Klapscheut finished in second place with a time of 41.28sec, while France’s Frederic David and Ecuador Van Roosakker were third with 43.88sec.
“It’s fantastic to have Laith back again,” said Breen. “He was laid off last year and it’s only our third show back. It’s an amazing feeling and he’s a great horse.”
Breen, one of seven riders to go through to the jump-off, watched Lund’s round just before he went into the arena.
“Tina was just before me which was good, so I was able to watch what she did,” he said. “My horse is very quick and careful so we could shave some time off. We have had a great time here in the UAE.”
Lund may have missed out on victory in the big class of the day, but she has rarely been out of the money this season and her strong run of form continued into day three when she steered Celvita Z to victory in the Abu Dhabi Sports Council Classic.
Her final round time of 52.01sec was good enough to drop previous leader, Frederic David and Levita vd Bisschop of France, down into second with his time of 55.40sec. Saudi Arabia’s Sulaiman Alanbar filled third position on Quintella in a time of 57.96sec.
“Celvita is a horse I have had for two years now,” said Lund. “I bought her as a five year old, she’s seven now and she’s been amazing.”
“She won the big Young Horse final a month ago and now I want to move her up a little and she needs to start jumping a little higher. She’s fast and she’s clever and I hope she’s scopey. Time will tell.”
The UAE’s Youth Olympic Games silver medalist, Omar Al Marzooqi claimed the Al Shira’aa Junior Stakes on Coral Beach Z, winning in a time of 55.41 sec. Second was Ali Hamad Al Kirbi on Catch The Wind II, who stopped the clock at 56.18 sec while Abdulla Ahmed Al Ameen Alshurafa was third on Dagonetta in 56.82sec.
“I was a bit fast today but I didn’t go so crazy,” said Al Marzooqi. “I was the first to go in the jump-off so I couldn’t watch any other rounds, but she is a very quick mare and very careful and I am very lucky to ride her.”
Thirteen-year-old Saif Abdulla Mohammed Al Shamsi was the winner of the first class of the day, the UAE Equestrian Federation Children’s Stakes on Dezapamillion Mas with a clear round in a time of 55.50sec. Only five riders competed in the 115cm class which saw the runner-up spot go to Abdullah Hamid Ali Al Kirbi and Lover des Patis in a time of 56.49sec. Layth Ghrayeb and Quapitola SR Z were third with their time of 58.12sec.
Al Shamsi, who has only been riding for a year was delighted with his round: “My horse is very good but she’s quite fast and she stops sometimes so I have to be careful,” he said. Al Shamsi will return to the arena on Saturday in the two phase UAE Equestrian Federation Children’s Cup.
The UAE leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup will be held at Al Forsan International Sports Resort on Saturday as the concluding class of the four-day President of the UAE Showjumping Cup presented by Longines. Organised by the UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation, in conjunction with world governing body, the FEI, the top two Middle Eastern teams will qualify for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final in Barcelona in October.