World Dressage starts today

UAE-based riders hope to retain honours in Zone 4 at Emirates Equestrian Centre

UAE-based rider, Pia Kjellstrom rides Sarotti owned by Farah Al Kohjai. — Supplied photo

UAE-based riders have the chance to claim the FEI World Dressage Challenge for the second consecutive year in the annual global competition, which begins today at Emirates Equestrian Centre (EEC).

The event is designed to allow riders in developing dressage countries, which do not have their own dressage Grands Prix, to compete against other nations without the need for expensive and time-consuming international travel. It sees competitors remain in their home countries and perform dressage tests for travelling international judges who then pool all results to establish a league table of high scores.

Countries are divided into geographical zones, with the UAE falling into Zone 4, alongside Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Turkey.

The UAE leg, which is supported by Bonjour Equestrian Supplies, along with Dubai Equestrian Club, Emirates Equestrian Centre and the Emirates Equestrian Federation, runs from 3.30pm-9.00pm.

In 2011 the UAE finished 10th out of 53 participating countries but last season the UAE riders leaped into the global top spot, with UAE-based Cristina Calin-Thompson finishing top of Zone 4 in the Prix St George category with a score of 66.5 per cent on Reem Al Abbar’s bay gelding, Webster.

In the Medium class the UAE obtained all three top Zone 4 results with Lynn al Redha scoring 70.9 per cent on Legrande, Dianne Breeze getting 68.53 per cent on Bellisimo Vita and Tracy Wyngard-Gill posting 65.5 per cent on Pikarda.

The UAE’s combined results across all classes were good enough to dominate the rankings following the country’s best-ever showing in the event.

“The standard of tests was very high last season and we are hoping that UAE-based riders can replicate the same kind of performance this season,” said Lilian Sternvad, Dressage Coordinator at EEC, who has been organising the event at EEC since 2003. “The feedback from the judges was very positive and they were very impressed with the professionalism of the riders and the standard of performance.

“The World Dressage Challenge is an excellent tool for countries that don’t have their own Grand Prix. The riders compete under international rules and at international levels against riders from other countries. Over the years I have seen a huge improvement on the standard of tests produced by the riders in the UAE.”

The FEI judges hold a clinic following the competition in order to further develop dressage talent in the UAE.

As a British Horse Society-affiliated club, the EEC also operates a branch of The Pony Club with a season-long schedule of rallies, clinics, gymkhanas and a season-ending Pony Club Camp. The EEC also hosts the annual three-day CSI 3 Dubai Showjumping Championships from January 30-February 1 as well as the three-day Shaikha Maryam bint Mohammed Al Maktoum Dubai Festival of the Horse from February 13-15.

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