SHARJAH: After winning the Sharjah Grand Prix, UAE’s Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi has now sets sights on Tokyo Olympics 2020.
Muhairi aboard speedy mare, Cha Cha Cha 7, was crowned champion in second edition of Sharjah Ruler Cup International Show Jumping Championship (CSI5*W).
“My goal has always been to compete at the Olympic Games (Tokyo, 2020),” he said.
“It is a long hard road and I will need to step up my game further and put in the extra hours. But I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to represent the UAE, and hopefully win a medal.
“But I could not have achieved this without the support of my sponsors and the technical team around us. We are slowly moving up and hopefully we can keep going until we reach the top.”
The road to Tokyo begins with the Gothenburg World Cup, but Muhairi has additional concerns ahead for the qualifiers.
“Cha Cha Cha is a great horse, and she helped give me this victory,” he said. “But for the Olympics I will need a new horse, one that has the experience and ability to jump at higher levels.
Sultan Mohammad Khalifa Al Yahyai, director general of the Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club, is in no doubt that the UAE would make their mark at the highest levels in the sport. “The Olympics is the ultimate target for any show jumper and I believe that we are closer to achieving that vision,” he said. “I am confident that Muhairi has the credentials and skills to compete at the highest level and even win.”
The four-day event that was held in the indoor arena of the Sharjah Equestrian and Racing Club, ran alongside an international two-star championship (CSI2*), as well as a young horses’ category for horses between 6-7 years old (CSIYH1*); a children’s category for 12–14-year-olds (CSIOCH); a junior riders’ category for 14–18-year-olds (CSIOY); and a young riders’ category for 16–21-year-olds (CSIOJ) that made up the finals for Group VII.
The main championship included the finals of the Arab League qualifiers for the Show Jumping World Cup, and the names were announced of the three Middle East riders and two North African riders who will participate in the Show Jumping World Cup that will take place in Sweden in April.
The three Middle East riders who qualified are Saudi’s Ramzy Al Duhami with 67 points, the UAE’s Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi with 57 points, and Saudi’s Khaled Abdulrahman Almobty with 53 points.
The two winners who will represent the countries of North Africa in the World Cup are Egypt’s Abdel Said with 65 points and his compatriot Mohamed Talaat with 52 points.
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A monumental final push in the UAE heat from Tadej Pogacar wasn’t enough to take the win in the third stage of the team’s home country as Adam Yates...
The 184km Emirates Stage finished with an exhausting 10.8km climb as Yates launched a surprisingly early attack with 6km to go. Pogacar didn’t react to Yates’ initial acceleration but then ripped clear of the chasing group with 5km remaining, finishing second in the stage, claiming the young rider’s jersey and ending the day second in the GC in a successful day for the team.
Pogacar said “It was extremely hot today, so for me on a climb like that in those temperatures it was a really good ride and I’m pleased.
“There is still three stages with another big mountain stage and the chance of crosswinds tomorrow so it’s not over yet. We have a strong team here so will try something for sure.”
Pogacar will get another chance to claim back the one minute GC deficit as the fifth stage of the Tour finishes at the same Jebel Hafeet summit.
Pogacar will wear the white young rider’s jersey in Wednesday’s stage as the race sees the riders return to the flats which will come as welcome relief for the sprinters.
The Emirates NBD Stage starts from Zabeel Park, crosses Mushrif Park and Motor City before finishing at Dubai City Walk where the popular walkway has been transformed as part of the racing route.
British climber Yates pulverised the opposition on the tough, final ascent of stage, winning by over a minute and taking the overall race lead.
His compatriot Chris Froome was dropped early in the race.
The four-time Tour de France winner again struggled on his comeback from injuries sustained last May.
The 27-year-old Yates is also making his 2020 debut and looks favourite to win in a competitive field after his stunning attack from 6km out at the end of a warm day with temperatures passing 30C.
“I attacked maybe a little too early, but in the end I felt good,” said Yates, whose win gives him a 1min 07sec lead in the overall.
“A minute is a lot, but we have to do this climb again, and maybe my legs won’t be so good then,” Yates said in reference to stage five.
“Also tomorrow I heard a rumour there are going to be crosswinds, so we’ll see.”
Yates was followed up the final 10.6km Jebell Hafeet climb at a 7 per cent gradient by a trio of challengers with Slovenian prodigy Pogacar finishing 1min 03sec adrift.
Astana’s Alexey Lutsenko was third at 1min 30sec accompanied by up-and-coming Frenchman David Gaudu.
Yates came fourth at the 2016 Tour de France and is targeting the Grand Boucle this summer where he will lead the Australian team ahead of his brother Simon.
Wednesday’s flat stage, the fourth of seven, is a 173km run to Dubai City Walk where a mass bunch sprint is expected.
Stage 3 Results
1. Adam Yates (GBR) Mitchelton-Scott 4h42’34”
2. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates +1:03
3. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) Astana +1:30
General Classification Results
1. Adam Yates (GBR) Mitchelton-Scott 12h30’02”
2. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates +1:07
3. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) Astana +1:35