AL SHARBATLY SPRINGS A SURPRISE TO JOIN LAMAZE, LE JEUNE AND PESSOA IN FINAL FOUR by Louise Parkes
Lexington, 8 October – Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Al Sharbatly sprang a big surprise today when, riding the brilliant mare Seldana di Campalto, he produced two more amazing clear rounds to earn his place in the Final Four competition which will decide the individual Jumping medals at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, USA tomorrow night. The 28 year old will join three giants of the sport in the exciting contest which tests horsemanship skills to the limit as the riders exchange horses. But Al Sharbatly has no fear of competing against the reigning Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze from Canada, former World Champion Rodrigo Pessoa from Brazil and Belgium’s Philippe Le Jeune.
After securing the coveted top-four qualifying spot tonight the Saudi rider said, “You never know what’s going to happen. Even if you ride perfectly well tomorrow you need a little luck and I think we will see a big surprise!”
With America’s Laura Kraut and her Olympic gold medal winning ride Cedric scratched from the startlist after this morning’s veterinary inspection there was a 29-strong field in today’s first round in which course designer Conrad Homfeld once again tested control and accuracy. Home hero McLain Ward produced the first clear with Sapphire when seventh to go and only four others would follow suit in this round in which the faults were evenly spread around the 12-fence course. However it was the penultimate triple combination which proved the bogey, the middle oxer in particular claiming a large number of victims, and it was here that Germany’s Carsten-Otto Nagel’s great run with Corradina came unstuck with four very expensive faults that dropped them from overnight third down to sixth.