Jessica Kurten won the richest prize ever in show jumping — $250,000 — at the Al Maktoum Memorial Challenge in Dubai on Friday. And if that was not enough of a story, she did it from a seemingly impossible first draw in the 13-strong jump-off while nursing a pulled shoulder.
Jessica and Quibell (pictured) set off at hunting pace and got a tricky double out of the way before kicking on around the huge floodlit arena, to go clear in 38.22 secs.
Trying to beat her forced error after error from the world class field, and eventually an entirely separate competition developed for second place and a not to be dismissed $170,000.
There was then the prospect of a “home” win. The Saudi star, Sydney bronze medallist Khaled El Eid was last to go and, with nothing to lose, was lightning fast out of the blocks and came very close on 38.85, but with two down, including an exasperating final fence.
Against this drama Nick Skelton surreptitiously held on to third, from the third draw, with Arko to pocket a cool $120,000. “Not bad, eh?” he beamed while furiously texting connections in the collecting ring.
For Jessica, it was a dream three days. She had also won Thursday’s Masters and paid huge credit to her home team who kept her horses in work after she was grounded by a fall immediately after Olympia.
“I would like to pay huge credit to the Maktoum family for this show,” she said. “We have never seen anything like it.”
Of the other British in the grand prix, Tim Gredley, John Whitaker and Michael Whitaker all went out in the first round.
Earlier, Nick continued his unbeaten run in the six bar with Russell. With eight previous wins, they shared first prize in Dubai version Alois Pollman Schwekhorst on Glen and took his show total to some $160,000.
pictures by Al Maktoum Memorial Challenge/Kit Houghton
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