With just four weeks to go before the 36th annual FEI World Cup Jumping Final takes place at Lyon in France from April 17 to 21, the majority of the 17 qualifying leagues have now concluded.
Amongst them are the Arab, Chinese, Japanese, South East Asian and Central Asia series which, between them, attracted 178 horse-and-rider combinations.
The Arab League was won by Morocco’s Abdelkabir Quaddar, who competed in six of the 13 legs and notched up 102 points after winning three of them. He got off to a great start when victorious at each of the first two legs staged on his home turf in Tetouan and Rabat, Morocco last September, and was runner-up at the third round at El Jadida, also in Morocco, in October.
The League then moved on to Amman (Jordan) for two further rounds in October and to Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) for two rounds in November and December. There was a double-bill of qualifiers at Doha (Qatar) in December while the new year opened with the 10th qualifier in Abu Dhabi (UAE).
Quaddar returned to action with the third of his three victories recorded at Sharjah (UAE) in January, and with strong placings at both Dubai and Al Ain (UAE) in February he claimed the Arab League title. The 51-year-old rider picked up his points with several horses including the 10-year-old Selle Francais stallion Quickly de Kreisker and the 11-year-old French-bred gelding Porche du Fruitier.
Qatar’s Hamad Ali Mohammed A Al Attiya finished a very close second on the table when picking up 101 points. He lined up at every one of the 13 legs of the series and picked up points every time, including the maximum 20 for wins at the fourth leg in Amman and the penultimate leg in Dubai in early February. At just 18 years of age, this young rider has an enviable string of horses that includes the brilliant mare Bella Donna, formerly ridden by Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, and his Dubai winning ride LB Casanova, formerly campaigned by Switzerland’s Christina Liebherr.
A double of wins, at El Jadida (Moroccs) and Riyadh helped Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Waleed Sharbatly slot into third in this series, which attracted 92 participants. A total of 65 horse-and-rider combinations collected points and the best seven results from the 13 legs counted towards qualification.
This was the 10th season of the Arab League which has experienced rapid growth during that time. Its introduction has brought about the steady improvement, in quantity and quality, of riders in the region and has provided the opportunity for venues, officials, organisers and all those involved in the sport to develop their skills.
China and Japan
Tae Sato, whose brothers Eiken and Kenki Sato have both competed at Olympic level, won the FEI World Cup Jumping Japanese League following a double of victories in Osaka. Tae’s father, Shodo, was selected for the Moscow Olympic Games, but Japan – along with other countries – declined to compete. Eiken represented Japan at the Jumping events of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and Kenki flew the Japanese flag in Eventing at Greenwich Park during the London 2012 Olympic Games. Tae is following in hallowed footsteps, but Eiken, who has been based in Europe for several years now, insists she is the best rider of them all.
The 25-year-old rider began her FEI World Cup Jumping season with a win at Osaka last April and competed in four of the six legs. The League moved on to Chiba in May, Nasu in June, Fuji in September and to Osaka again in October where Tae, once again, came out on top. The last leg took place at Shizuoka-Tsumagoi in December. Her top ride is the 10-year-old Dutch-bred mare Vrouwe Toltien.
Runner-up in the Japanese League was last year’s champion, 24-year-old Koki Saito, who once again enjoyed a great season with his two horses, Eddi Maserati and Telexio. Meanwhile Daisuke Kawaguchi, who finished second last year, was third this time around.
The Japanese League expanded from three to six qualifying rounds this season, and the four best results were counted. A total of 31 athletes participated, with 26 obtaining points.
The first leg of the Chinese FEI World Cup Jumping League took place at Beijing Caiyu last May, while the remaining two legs were staged at the Beijing International Equestrian Club and, with riders from China, Hong Kong and Germany taking part, it was China’s Tongyan Liu who took the title.
Liu didn’t win any of the qualifying rounds but was consistently highly placed, slotting into fourth spot first time out with Ku Bu Qu, and then taking runner-up spot on the next two occasions. The 46-year-old rider competes in both Jumping and Eventing, and finished 19 individually at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou. In September 2013, the rider from Inner Mongolia won equestrian gold at the 12th National China Games in Shenyang, Liaoning Province in which participants from 38 regions took part.
German rider, Franz-Josef Dahlmann, and his wife Kate moved to China last year to manage the Beijing International Equestrian Club, which is owned by Zhang Baosheng. Dahlmann, who competed horses for German national coach Otto Becker and for Zangersheide Stud in Belgium, competed in all three legs of the Chinese league and the 34-year-old won the opener at Beijing Caiyu riding Ziemar.
Third place in the Chinese League went to 22-year-old Meimei Zhu who divides her time between the US and European circuits and who is a pupil of Ludger Beerbaum at Riesenbeck in Germany. Fourth went to Hong Kong’s Kenneth Cheng who made a big name for himself during the equestrian events of the Beijing Olympic Games staged in Hong Kong in 2008.
South East Asia and Central Asia
Both South East Asia and Central Asia staged three legs each in their regions, with the two best results counting for points. A total of 17 athletes participated in the Central Asia series and just eight in the South East Asia FEI World Cup Jumping qualifiers.
Uzbekistan’s Umid Kamilov topped the Central Asia leaderboard. This league began at Bishkek in Kyrgyztan last May, with the second leg taking place in Astana, Kazakhstan in June/July and the last leg in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in September. The 26-year-old overall champion pipped Kazakhstan’s Alexander Tishkov by five points at the end of the series.
Riders from just three nations took part – Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan – and it was Uzbeki rider, Gairat Nazarov who was third, partnering just the one horse, Quattro Junior.
Indonesia’s Kumiadi Katompo won the South East Asia League in which the action began at Tigaraksa, Tangerang, then moved on to Pattaya in Thailand, and returned to Indonesia for the final leg at Lembang, Bandung. The 33-year-old rider finished five points ahead of third-placed Munsika Piyavidtayakarn from Thailand.
Success in any of the FEI World Cup Jumping regional Leagues is a tremendous achievement, but not all qualified athletes accept the invitation to travel to the Final in any given season. This year the top three riders from the Arab League will be there, but there will be no representatives from Japan, South East Asian or Central Asia while the participation of Chinese star Tongyan Liu is as yet unconfirmed.
FEI World Cup Jumping Arab League 2013/2014 - 1, Abdelkabir Quaddar (MAR) 102; Hamad Ali Mohamed AAl Attiya (QAT) 101; 3, Abdullah Waleed Sharbatly (KSA) 97.
FEI World Cup Jumping Japanese League 2013/2014 - 1, Tae Sato (JPN) 66; 2, Koki Sato (JPN) 62; 3, Daisuke Kawaguchi (JPN) 42.
FEI World Cup Jumping Chinese League 2013/2014 - 1, Tongyan Liu (CHN) 49; 2, Franz-Josef Dahlmann (GER) 44; 3, Meimei Zhu (CHN) 40.
FEI World Cup Jumping South East Asia League 2013/2014 -1, Kumiadi Katompo (INA) 17; 2, Ferry Wahyu Hadiyanto (INA) 11; 3, Muniska Piyavidtayakarn) THA 6.
FEI World Cup Jumping Central Asia League 2013/2014 - 1, Umid Kamilo (UZB) 26; 2, Alexander Tishkov (KAZ) 21; 3, Gairat Nazarov (UZB) 20.