Sunday,22 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1243, (23 - 29 April 2015)
Sunday,22 October, 2017
Issue 1243, (23 - 29 April 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Equestrian elite

Noble Egyptian knights commanded Cairo International Stadium in the second edition of the Concours  de Saut International Grand Prix of Cairo. Mohamed Abdel-Razek reports

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Al-Ahram Weekly

From 16 to 18 April Cairo International Stadium hosted the international Equestrian Grand Prix, a two-star show jumping competition approved by the Federation Equestre International (FEI), the international governing body of equestrian sports. The events are broken down into a starring system from one to five, matching the prize money awarded, meaning events with more prize money gets more stars.  

Early from day one over the weekend, Egyptian riders dominated the three levels of the competition, jumping over small tour, medium tour and big tour barriers. All 200 riders from 26 countries made sure to get used to the course as well as building trust and harmony with their horses.

Riders started off using various strategies, with one of them leaving some freedom for the horse in the qualification round on Friday but held the snaffle rein tight on the final day on Saturday to try to keep the horse’s movements as precise as possible. Fast and clear runs without any faults meant that the rider would have a good chance finishing in the top three. Egypt made sure to participate with all its international riders to gain as much points as possible to help qualify to the world championships.

In the small tour class, Maxime Harmegnies from Belgium was on top form with a clean performance, enough for first place, leaving the second and third places for the Egyptians Omar Essawi and Abdel-Rahman Nour.

In the medium tour, the Dutch captured first place through Harrie Wiering, while second place went to Hussein Hawari from Egypt and third to Harry Luttal, the German.

Reaching the big tour where barriers are high enough for action and drama, Egyptian riders showed fabulous control while the stamina, speed, and flexibility of the horses were tested to the limit. Egypt’s international champion Mohamed Talaat showed off his qualities, finishing on top like last year. “I’m glad I won today on my ground, however, regarding the competition, abroad the events are much stronger than the Grand Prix here in Egypt. Way better riders and better horses,” said Talaat. In the same tour, Ahmed Hafez of Egypt came second, and compatriot Amr Gammal third.

Later, riders were awarded their prizes and medals after they marched onto the field riding special chariots cheering their fans and relatives, while the live orchestra was playing heavenly aristocratic music.

“I worked hard and trained for weeks to reach this stage,” Hafez said. “I would like to thank my club Ittihad Al-Shorta and my family for supporting me to reach this happy ending.”

“I would like to thank [Sports]Minister Khaled Abdel-Aziz for his constant support for the Egyptian Equestrian Federation, helping us to organise such international events,” said Hesham Hatab, EEF president.

Talaat added that the sport in Egypt needs much more financial support to build high standard courses and get better horses.

On the other side of the coin, officials and organisers expressed their satisfaction, promising that next year a lot of factors will be enhanced. However, it remains a challenge for Egypt to host an international Grand Prix, a fact which pushes athletes and sport addicts to always dream big and hope for the better.

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