It was a brilliant sunny day in Abu Dhabi as 32 riders representing eight different nations gathered to compete in the Middle East leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2018. Syria, Saudi Arabia, and host country the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were vying for only two spots at the finals in Barcelona, Spain, later this year, heightening the excitement for the those teams and the fans who came out to cheer for them.
While the midday heat in the ring was fierce, the horses and riders only had to contend with it for the few minutes they were actually competing, as the practice arena and stabling at the luxurious Al Forsan International Sports Resort hosting the event is entirely air conditioned.
Both rounds of the competition took place on the same course, designed by Bernardo Costa Cabral of Portugal.
The allowed time of 75 seconds wasn’t a factor for most of the riders, but a sticky triple combination and 3.9-metre water feature caught more than a few jumpers and racked up the four-point faults.
After Round 1, in which the eight teams each sent forth four riders, the results were far from guaranteed. Only New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, and Italy carried four faults forward into Round 2.
The second round proved to be a test for many competitors, and though 11 jumpers managed clear rides in the previous round, only McIntosh of New Zealand and Ireland’s David Simpson on Keoki mustered a second clear.
Lucky for those two, the Abu Dhabi Middle East qualifying leg offered an individual prize of €50,000 to be shared by anyone who pulled double clears, so McIntosh was able to savour an extra sweet triumph.