The world’s top 20 show jumpers are in Dubai, preparing for the world’s richest ever show jumping competition. The inaugural Al Maktoum Memorial Challenge (11-13 January) offers a staggering prize fund of $1,250,000 (US).
Britain’s Nick Skelton, John and Michael Whitaker and Tim Gredley will be competing against the likes of Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Alois Pollmann-Schweckhorst and Switzerland’s Markus Fuchs for the $760,000 first prize.
“This will be one of the most exciting shows ever staged in the world, perhaps the most exciting in the history of the sport,” said event director Simon Brooks-Ward. “The quality of riders will be on par with the Olympics and we are therefore assured of some of the finest show jumping competitions that the world has ever seen.”
The competition is the brainchild of international show jumper and President of the Dubai Equestrian Club Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein and is designed to raise the profile of show jumping in Dubai.
“The inaugural Al Maktoum Challenge is part of a long term strategy of the Dubai Equestrian Club to develop and promote equestrian sport in the Middle East,” said Mr. Saeed Al Tayer, Vice President, Dubai Equestrian Club. “The Challenge will be the first ever international opportunity in the region to see and admire the best show jumping riders, competing on the best horses, for the highest prize money in the world.”
Following the recent sudden death of Sheikh Maktoum Al Maktoum (pictured), the Al Maktoum challenge has been renamed the Al Maktoum Memorial Challenge. Sheikh Maktoum Al Maktoum established the Dubai Equestrian Club last August in recognition of Princess Haya’s long standing career in show jumping and was heavily involved in establishing the Al Maktoum Challenge. Princess Haya was first Arab woman athlete to compete in an equestrian event at the Olympic Games when she represented Jordan in the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Jumping rounds will be interspersed with displays of medieval jousting and skilled demonstrations of Cossack traditional riding. Each evening spectators will enjoy “The Heroes of the Horse World”, a special production that features past and present World and European Champions from different FEI equestrian disciplines.
A variety of show jumping competitions will be contested throughout the three days including the FEI World Cup qualifier for the Arab League. The Al Maktoum Memorial Challenge itself will take place on Friday and can be watched live on Eurosport 2 at 4:15pm.
For further details about the Al Maktoum Memorial Challenge visit: www.almaktoumchallenge.com
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