‘It’s been a difficult year – but I’m excited’: meet Egyptian-turned-British showjumper Sameh El Dahan

  • Showjumper Sameh El Dahan is one of leading names on the international showjumping circuit, who was until recently competing under the flag of his native Egypt.

    However, having switched nationalities to ride for Great Britain, he says he is now ready for new adventures, as he tells H&H showjumping editor Jennifer Donald on this week’s episode of The Horse & Hound Podcast.

    “I’m excited! It has been a difficult year for me, with lots of things, lots of changes, but it’s a new adventure and I’m happy to have already started competing for Great Britain and I’ve had some very good results under the flag,” he says.

    “These are new beginnings for me and the future is bright I hope.”

    Sameh, 36, has been based in Co. Antrim in Northern Ireland with showjumper Joanne Sloan-Allen for well over a decade, but grew up and learnt to ride in Cairo.

    “My family tells the story that I fell in love with horses – I just love all animals by nature,” says Sameh, who was five when he first sat on a horse. “So I think that’s one of the reasons I chose to do showjumping, rather than what I studied, which is medicine.

    “I was lucky as a young kid because the trainer I started with was a military general and it was four years of working on your position, flatwork, your heels and toes, your body, your neck, your head, your hands, looking where you’re going. But I think this was the platform for where I am today.”

    Sameh also took time to reflect on one of his greatest successes, winning the grand prix at Spruce Meadows in 2018, part of the Rolex Grand Slam of showjumping, with the wonderful chestnut mare Suma’s Zorro.

    “It’s an amazing venue to jump at – you watch Spruce as a young rider and say ‘I would just love to jump there’; winning that grand prix is on every rider’s checklist,” he says. “When it happened for me, I don’t know if there are words to describe the feeling. My heart was pounding and my whole body was shivering when I finished that last jump and looked up at the screen.

    “Zorro fought for me for three rounds. So when I saw I was in first place, I don’t think I’ve ever felt happier.”

    Hear more from Sameh El Dahan as he talks about the horses he’s most excited about riding next year and when he hopes to be eligible for British showjumping teams in episode 80 of The Horse & Hound Podcast — listen here or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favourite podcast app.

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