Saudi Equestrian Qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games

Saudi Arabia’s equestrian Show Jumping team, Saudi Equestrian, gained official qualification to the London 2012 Olympic Games (27 July – 12 August) at the CSI-W4* Doha (QAT) on Friday 30 December 2011. 15 teams, each with four riders, are now qualified in the equestrian team Show Jumping competition, which takes place over three days from Saturday 4 to Monday 6 August at the World Heritage Site of Greenwich Park.

The Saudi team secured its place in the Olympics during the Group F (Africa and Middle East Region) FEI Select Olympic Qualification event held in the Qatari capital of Doha (December 27 – 30, 2011).   News of officially qualifying for the Olympics follows earlier success in Doha: The Saudi Equestrian team claimed the coveted Nations Cup and Abdullah Sharbatly won the Grand Prix.

15 Show Jumping teams are now lined up for the Summer Olympics. They include the host nation – Great Britain – and five teams – Germany, France, Belgium, Brazil and Canada – who automatically qualified from securing the top five places at last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, USA. The Saudi team took eighth place at these Games.

Saudi Equestrian was founded in November 2009 to take the team through the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games and prepare for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Saudi Equestrian team comprises six riders, including previous 2000 Sydney Olympic bronze medallist, Khaled Al Eid, and 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games silver medallist, Abdullah Sharbatly. Saudi Equestrian has its training facility at Haras de Wisbecq, Belgium and is backed up by dedicated support staff that includes experienced trainers, management, grooms, farriers and vets.

Saudi Equestrian first qualified for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta where Khaled Al Eid, riding Eastern Knight, finished in 30th place. In the 15 years since then, it has developed into a highly respected outfit that has notched up exceptional results on the global equestrian stage. That includes an Olympic medal, the second in the nation’s history, at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games when Al Eid, aboard Khashm al-‘Aan, won bronze in the individual Show Jumping event. This is the first and only Olympic medal won by an Arab or African nation in any of the three Olympic equestrian disciplines (Show Jumping, Dressage and Eventing). In the individual Show Jumping competition at the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games, Saudi Equestrian rider, Abdullah Al Sharbatly, won silver in the coveted Rolex Top Four competition – the Middle East’s first medal in Show Jumping at a World Equestrian Games.

Now the Saudis have reached their fifth Olympics in Show Jumping. Saudi Equestrian’s managing director, Ziyad Abduljawad, commented: “This is a milestone for Saudi Equestrian and our country. We are all thrilled that the years of preparation have paid off”.

Abduljawad, himself a former show jumper, continued: “There are impressive and formidable Show Jumping teams lined up for the 2012 Summer Olympics and Saudi Arabia is proud to have the opportunity for our nation to compete on the world stage.”

Prince Faissal bin Abdullah bin Muhammad Al Saud, Chairman of the Saudi Equestrian Board of Trustees, commented: “All of us in Saudi Arabia are overjoyed that the Saudi Equestrian Team has officially qualified to compete with the world’s best in Show Jumping at the 2012 London Olympics”.

Prince Faissal continued: “Our riders and horses continue to achieve impressive results in top level international events. They have earned their place along with the other 14 Show Jumping teams competing in the Olympics. Horses and horsemanship have always been closely woven into the culture and history of Saudi Arabia and we are proud that Saudi Equestrian will be representing the nation in this exciting equestrian event at the Summer Olympics.”

Photo caption (from left to right): Abdullah Sharbatly aboard Jalla de Gaverie; Ashraf (Sharbatly's groom); Badr Alfayes; Ramzy Al Duhami; HH Prince Faisal; and Kamal Bahamdan aboard Delphi at the CSI-W4* Doha (QAT)  Photo credit: Saudi Equestrian