Olympic team bronze medalist Abdullah Al Sharbatly notched up two further wins in the international classes at Royal Windsor over the weekend, taking his tally of victories to three so far.
The Saudi rider has proved a formidable opponent to the rest of the riders in the spectacular Castle Arena, having claimed a win on each of the three horses he has bought to the competition.
Having claimed Friday’s Bahrain Pearl Stakes with Andrea, Abdullah, a silver medallist at the last Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, kicked off Saturday’s classes with a first in the Six Bar on Callahan. He was the only rider to go clear over the fences in the fifth round.
Later, riding Tobalio, he came forward to contest the lucrative Kingdom of Bahrain Stakes for the King’s Cup. In the final round, he clipped half a second from leader Andres Rodriguez’s jump-off round with Caballito to stamp his authority on the show.
Ireland’s Shane Breen loosened Abdullah’s grip on the classes by taking the final class of the day, The Falcon Stakes, with Farao Van’T Vennehof. He won the class, run as a Winning Round competition – in which the starters are split into groups and the best rounds from each go forward to a jump-off – by performing an exceptionally tight turn back to an upright Land Rover fence, followed by superb use of his horse’s speed.
“This horse was placed in the Grand Prix here last year with my brother, Trevor,” said Breen, who owns the nine-year-old stallion with his uncle James Breen and Anatoly Pysarenko. “He’s had lots of second, so it’s good to finally get a win with him. He is Mr Consistent for me.”
The class ran in the balmy evening sun under the shadow of Windsor Castle and attracted a huge crowd of spectators.
“There hasn’t been an empty seat for any class here and the crowd has been so supportive and really enjoying the jumping,” said Breen, who is based at Hickstead, Sussex. “The venue is amazing and the show offers the opportunity to see so many breeds and so many equestrian disciplines.”
Robert Whitaker closed the international competitions on Sunday with a spectacular round of show jumping to claim first place in the Alltech Grand Prix for The Kingdom of Bahrain Trophy. Riding Catwalk, the Yorkshireman had a little bit of luck to help him clip one and a half seconds off his cousin William’s leading time.
“I was pretty fast between the first three fences, but I am not sure what happened at the end,” said Robert, 31. “Everyone was pushing for the second last and I was holding; I was a bit lucky!”
Seven riders had gone clear over the testing course and Daniel Neilson, a brand ambassador for one of the show’s sponsors, Hermes, set the standard from the get-go in the jump-off on Varo M.
“It’s tough being first to go,” Neilson said, “Especially with so many good riders following you.”
Although a good standard had been set, William Whitaker pinched back two seconds on his girlfriend Elizabeth Freudlund’s Fandango.
“Fandango had some good results, including winning a grand prix in Spain this year,” said Freudlund, who handed over Fandango’s reins to William when she fell pregnant with their first child, Bella.
However, Robert prevented his cousin from winning by finding extra time on course with his mother Clare’s 11-year-old stallion.
“It’s great to win this class here. It’s always been a top show, and sure the weather has helped, but there’s lots of people here, lots of backing, good riders, a great atmosphere and the horses have jumped fantastically off the surface.”
Early in the day, swiftness was all important in the Speed Stakes. France’s Julien Gonin was victorious with his own Queen Girl Kervec. He prevented a fourth win at the show for the Abdullah Al-Sharbatly, who came second with Andrea.
A long-standing traditional competition at Royal Windsor Horse Show is the Services Team Show Jumping and this year there were nearly 100 competitors from 34 different sectors of the services, including the RAF, Royal Navy, Household Cavalry, Kings Troop and Police Force.
The victorious team was the Bahrain Defence Force, made up of Kalid Hila Al Khatri, Sh. Isa Bin Salman Bin Al Khalifa and Ahmed Mansur. They narrowly beat the Wellington College CCF Team B, with third place going to HCMR Team A.
The marathon phase of the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix provided show visitors with a fantastic spectacle on Saturday.
Competitors from 11 nations tackled the eight obstacles spread around Home Park at nail-biting speeds and the leaderboard changed dramatically from the standings after the dressage stage.
Former leader Chester Weber (USA) dropped down to fourth place, whilst Glenn Geerts (BEL) who was in ninth place after the dressage claimed top spot. Australia’s Boyd Excel dropped just one place down to third as a result of Koos de Ronde (NED) climbing up from fifth to take second.