30 September - Last week the host nation of South Korea claimed all the gold on offer in Dressage and Eventing at the Asian Games 2014 in Incheon. This week however Jumping took centre stage at the Dream Park Equestrian Centre where Qatar claimed the top step of the team medal podium on Sunday and Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Al Sharbatly took the individual title today.

The Asian Games succeeded the Far Eastern Championship Games staged in Manila, the Philippines, in 1913 and the West Asian Games held at New Delhi, India in 1934. The Asian Games Federation was established in 1949, and the Olympic Council of Asia, established in 1982, now oversees this major fixture which embraces 36 separate sports and which this year celebrates its 17th edition.

Clean and clear-cut

The Qatari team victory was clean and clear-cut as they completed on a zero score to leave the result beyond doubt. Saudi Arabia had to settle for silver with a total of just four faults while Japan SLOTTED into bronze medal position on a total of 12. Time faults proved costly for Team UAE who finished just off the podium in fourth place.

It was double-clear performances from three of the four Qatari team members that put gold in their grasp. Nasser Ghazallijahromi (Delloren), Sheikh Ali bin Khalid Al Thani (Vienna Olympic) and Khalid Mohammed Al Emadi (Tamira) were all foot-perfect, while Bassem Hassan Mohammed (Anyway) collected only 3 time faults for the discount score.

This is a team full of promise because Sheikh Al Thani, who celebrates his 32nd birthday tomorrow, was the oldest member of the side. Bassem Mohammed is 27, Al Emadi is 19 and Ghazallijahromi is the youngest at just 18 years. Keeping calm and concentrating on the task at hand was key to their success as Sheikh Ali said in the aftermath.

Saudi Arabia shared the lead with Qatar at the halfway stage when each team had nothing to add to their scorelines. Faisal Al Shalan (Talan), Salman Hamed Almazadi (Senorita) and Abdulrahman Bader Alrajhi (New Orleans) all kept a clean sheet for the Saudi side, with Al Sharbatly picking up just one time fault. But the man who would go on to win the individual honours had a fence down at his second attempt, and when Alrajhi racked up a 12-fault score then Al Sharbatly’s result had to be counted despite two more clears from their team-mates.

Second round began

The Philippines made a fantastic start when lying third with just two faults on the board as the second round began, following a clear from Joker Arroya (Didi De Goedersede) and only single time faults from both Marie Leviste (Maximillian) and Martin Diego Lorenzo (Contino). But it all fell apart for them in round two with the addition of 15 faults.

Japan meanwhile finished the first round with just four faults on the board after clears from pathfinder Satoshi Hirao (Ulan) and achorman Taizo Sugitani (Avenzio), and single errors from both Takashi Utsunomiya (Touche Pas a Riversuite) and Tadahiro Hayashi (Loretto Classic). Only Sugitani managed to leave all the poles in place second time out however, but, even with eight more to add, their final tally came to 12 and that proved plenty good enough to clinch the bronze.

The United Arab Emirates’ total of 14 left them tantalisingly close to a medal-placing. On nine faults after the first round they had to add five more despite second-round clears from Abdulla Mohammed Almarri (Sierra Antika Joter) and Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum (Peanuts de Beaufour).

Individual decider

There were 20 horse-and-rider combinations in today’s individual decider, and this time Al Sharbatly’s 11-year-old bay Hannoverian by Contendro never put a foot wrong to help his rider finish top of the order. It would be a hard-fought affair however, with two separate jump-offs to decide the medals, and a great day for Japan when taking both the silver and bronze.

Only the 32-year-old Saudi Arabian rider and Satoshi Hirao managed to stay clear over the first two rounds. and Al Sharbatly posted yet another clean run at this third attempt in the quick time of 33.64. So when 39-year-old Hirao faulted just once with his 13-year-old Canadian Warmblood, Ulano, the Japanese rider had to settle for silver.

It was another watershed moment for former Arab champion Al Sharbatly who rocketed onto the radar when taking individual silver at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2010 in Kentucky, USA before going on to contribute to Saudi Arabia’s team bronze at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Before the medal ceremony could take place however there was more work to be done as there were eight riders tied on a four-fault tally at the end of round two so another gallop against the clock ensued to decide where the bronze medal would go.

And five horse-and-rider combinations left all the fences in place this time around, but Taizo Sugitani’s super-fast run in 30.95 seconds firmly clinched it for the 38-year-old double-Olympian who finished 10th individually in Kentucky four years ago. Once again it was a case of so near and yet so far for Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum who missed a place on the podium when finishing fourth when just over a second slower than Sugitani in the final round.

Jumping Team Competition:  Gold - Qatar 0 faults: Delloren (Nasser Ghazalliahromi) 0/0, Vienna Olympic (Sheikh Ali bin Khalid Al Thani) 0/0, Tamira (Khalid Mohammed Al Rmadi) 0/0, Anyway (Bassem Hassan Mohammed) 1/2; Silver - Saudi Arabia 4 faults: Talan (Faisal Al Shalan) 0/0, New Orleans (Abdulrahman Bader Alrajhi) 0/12, Senorita (Salman Hamad Almaqadi) 0/0, Callahan (Abdullah Al Sharbatly) 1/4; Bronze - Japan 12 faults: Ulano (Satoshi Hirao) 0/4, Touche Pas a Riversuite (Takashi Utsunomiya) 4/8, Loretto Classic (Tadahiro Hayashi) 4/4, Avenzio (Taizo Sugitani) 0/0.

Jumping Individual Competition: Gold - Callahan (Abdullah Al Sharbatly) KSA 0/0/0 33.64; Silver -Ulano (Satoshi Hirao) JPN 0/0/4 39.36; Bronze - Avenzio (Taizo Sugitani) JPN 0/4/0 30.95.

Full results here

by Louise Parkes