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Hamad Ali Al Kirbi wins the Emirates Motor Company Al Shira'aa Derby in Abu Dhabi

Saturday, 12 January 2019
CSI4* Al Shira'aa International Horse Show 2019

Photo (c) Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping. Hamad Ali Al Kirbi wins the first Derby ever in the region. All photos (c) World of Showjumping.

Friday was a special day at the Al Shira'aa International Horse Show in Abu Dhabi (UAE), with the Emirates Motor Company Al Shira'aa Derby being the first ever of its kind held in the region.  And the action certainly kept the audience at Al Forsan International Sports Resort on the edge of their seats.

The derby course designed by Bernardo Costa Cabral had 14 special obstacles and 17 efforts in it. Along with the other special fences, the water jump at fence number nine followed by a triple combination of white, narrow planks at fence number ten created some challenges for the 53 horse-and-rider combinations that were set to battle it out for the victory – and a brand new Mercedes Benz. In the end only nine pairs cleared the demanding track, and to the overwhelming joy of the hosts it was Hamad Ali Al Kirbi (UAE) on the 11-year-old gelding Uxmal d'Ysieux (Crown Z x Balougran Z) that was the fastest of them all. 

With his time of 81.09 seconds, Al Kirbi took home the top honours - something he had been carefully preparing for weeks. "I have been waiting for this class for three weeks already," he told the press afterwards. "For the three previous weeks I have only been schooling my horse and given him all the time to win this class," he continued. "This class was very hard. My horse is really fast, and he helped me a lot tonight." 

Al Kirbi has been coming to Al Shira'aa International Horse Show every year since the first edition. "I have liked this show already three years, it is a show everyone is talking about. When you see it here, you feel it; there is something special here. And every year something new." 

Mohammed Al Hajri (UAE), riding the 11-year-old mare Doklahoma VDL (Baloubet du Rouet x Emilion) took the second place with his time of 82.73 seconds and William Funnell (GBR) on the 11-year-old gelding Billy McCain (Cevin Z x Cruising) placed third, after clocking a time of 82.92 seconds.

 "I think it was a real fun class, actually, for the crowd," Funnell commented. "And that is the thing. When we make everything tall and use technical distances, those are things only we in the sport understand," he went on to explain why it is important to offer the audience something a little different. "For the crowd today, it was great to have a UAE rider win – but there were some thrills and spills and it made the class more exciting. This is why the likes of Hickstead, Falsterbo and Hamburg are still full on derby days," he said. "That is what we need in showjumping; we need to make sure we still appeal to the people outside our sport." 

"I am pleased with my horse, he did everything I asked," Funnell said about Billy McCain, and was looking forward to tomorrow's Longines & Al Shira'aa Grand Prix. "They look after us really well here, the facilities are good and the ground is good. Now I just hope for a good Grand Prix." 

The fourth place went to Mike Kawai (JPN) on the 11-year-old mare Kahlua (Tygo x Caritas), while Janakabhorn Karunayadhaj (THA) on the 15-year-old gelding Newmarket Venture Clover (Newmarket Venture x Cavalier Royle) placed fifth. 


Text and photo © World of Showjumping

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