Feature Story

Fast and furious equine action as the Arabian Sport Horse Championship returns

Fast and furious equine action as the Arabian Sport Horse Championship returns May 24, 2023

Arabian horses showcased their abilities in stunning style as the Arabian Sport Horse Championship returned to the UAE.

Held under the patronage of Sheikha Hissa bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, the Championship is exclusively for Purebred and Part-bred Arabians and was staged for the first time since 2019. Held at the state-of-the-art Boudheib Equestrian Academy in Abu Dhabi, the action took place in the world’s largest indoor arena. The show featured 15 different classes, with both individual and team awards up for grabs and record prize money of more than AED170,000.

The Arabians showcased their abilities in classes divided into three levels: Advanced, Intermediate and Novice, which were shown live across the UAE via YAS TV. The 90-110cm Advanced Eventing went to Hasan Ali Al Saiari, who incurred just three penalties on Asmr Wrsan. The same combination showed off their versatility by also winning the Barrel Racing, a hotly contested new class, charging to victory in a time of 18:63, more than a second faster than runner-up Alexia Nourtier. There was a close finish in the 70-90cm Intermediate Arena Eventing, in which three riders jumped clear, with Abdul Raheem Al Ali and Ukirfolie winning on the clock.

Rider Sultan Al Tabli enjoyed an excellent show, one of the highlights being victory in the Advanced Against The Clock 90-110cm Jumping. Riding Quinoa Al Doom, he was one of two riders to jump clear, beating Layla Abdulaziz Al Redha on time.
Al Tabli and Quinoa also lifted first prize in the Chase Me Charlie – a Show Jumping class where the jumps are raised after each round – and the Jumping Accumulator. “It’s been amazing; the event is five star,” said Al Tabli, who also won the 70-90cm Against the Clock class on Bayan. “Everything is so nice; the horses are happy; the kids are happy, everyone is happy! Thanks so much to the organisers for this beautiful event.”

One of the most competitive classes on the day was the 50-70cm Against The Clock jumping in which an astonishing 22 of the 37 riders jumped clear. The fastest of them all was Star Sadeghi riding the speedy Stardust, who beat Osama Zbibi by less than a second.

Arabian horses also excel in the Dressage arena, and it was ex-Endurance horse Venitia De La Cure and Sabine Ampferl who took Novice honours, while Manohar Singh and Maisan celebrated victory in the Prelim class.

The winning Versatility team plaudits went to the Ajman-based MH Stable T1, whose four riders, Anna Salakhutdinova, Alexandra Grant, Sabine Buschen and Savannah Glanville amassed 116 points, nine more than runners up Boudheib T1.

“It felt like a whirlwind,” said Grant, an experienced Dressage, Show Jumping and Event rider. “The support from ASHC was huge, with countless sponsored training shows which really gave us encouragement to train for the Championship.”

MH Stable Manager Elise Jeanne added: “ASHC 2023 was a huge success. Our ex-racehorses have found all the support we needed. They are not forgotten, and they can keep shining in these prestigious competitions.

“We only wish that the Championship keeps growing. Thank you, Sheikha Hissa Bint Sultan Al Nahyan, for this initiative.”

The bumper prizes on offer attracted more than 100 entries with riders of 16 nationalities heading to Abu Dhabi from all over the region, plus some from overseas. 36 Emiratis competed, including UAE Olympic team member Omar Abdulaziz Al Marzouqi and local stars Sultan Ahmed and Osama Zbibi, while celebrated stunt horseman Ali Al Ameri performed during the breaks.

“The thing I liked as a rider is the opportunity the show gives to the Arabian horse and that it pushes Arabian horse owners to take better care of their horses,” said Zbibi. “Special thanks to Sheikha Hissa for all the support and for making this happen.”

Endurance rider Aisha Badr Alnaqbi added: “It was a day full of excitement and joy for us as riders. I am honoured to be one of the first riders to participate in the Barrel Racing class which was held for the first time in the UAE. It was quite an experience!”

Founded in 2016 by Sheikha Hissa to showcase the capabilities and versatility of the Arabian, this was the biggest edition of the show to date, and it continues to evolve with the standard in 2023 higher than ever. There was a family atmosphere away from the action, with food trucks, falconry displays, henna painting, pony rides and other children’s activities, while more than 800 guests enjoyed free entry.

AHSC 2023 was also well-received by industry professionals, including Mr. Mohammed Muhair Al Mazrouei, General Manager, Boudheib Endurance Village and Boudheib Academy, who presented the Championship awards, as did Mr. Mubarak Al Mansoori, General Coordinator and Head of Security, Boudheib Endurance Village and Boudheib Academy.

“Boudheib Academy were delighted to be the host venue once again; this year’s championship saw a huge increase in participation and we look forward to working in partnership with the ASHC team to make the 2024 Championship even bigger and better,” commented Al Mazrouei.

Kieran Treacy, Director of Boudheib Academy, added: “We were delighted to have nearly 30 of our own riders and horses take part and achieve so many victories and placings. This year really offered a chance for everyone to compete whether you were new to the equestrian world or competing professionally.”

“The Arabian Sport Horse Championship was brilliantly put together and well thought out,” said Muireann Colley, Manager of Fujairah Royal Stables. “We are overjoyed at how our team performed this weekend and we will definitely be putting the show on our calendar for next season.”

The event was also attended by HE Mohammed Al Harbi, the Director General of Emirates Arabian Horse Society, who said: “the participation of 67 Purebred Arabian horses over the 15 competition classes, in addition to 79 riders, is a real addition to the distinguished work of Arabian sport horses. It is wonderful to witness the participation of Arabian horses in such activities.”

The show was inspired and made possible by the vision of the late Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the founder of Boudheib. His Highness was a huge supporter of the Arabian horse breed and UAE heritage, successfully breeding under the W’Rsan banner. His concern for horses competing in Endurance led him to establish the Boudheib protocol initiative – introducing stricter rules which prioritized horse welfare. His vision was rewarded in February 2023, when Boudheib was selected to host the FEI Endurance World Championships. 

The Arabian Sport Horse Championship will return in 2024 with an expanded two-day format and more than AED500,000 in prizemoney. A range of sponsorship opportunities will also be available.