Saudi showjumpers ride for places in Tokyo Olympics team

1 / 3
Saudi Dalma Malhas rides her horse during the Diriyah Equestrian Festival in Riyadh, where male and female equestrians rode side-by-side for the first time on Dec. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
2 / 3
'Resin Art' exhibition is part of the activities lined up during the two-week Diriyah Equestrian Festival. (Photo/Supplied)
3 / 3
Saudi Dalma Malhas rides her horse during the Diriyah Equestrian Festival in Riyadh, where male and female equestrians rode side-by-side for the first time on Dec. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Updated 16 December 2019

Saudi showjumpers ride for places in Tokyo Olympics team

  • International exposure key to Saudi riders’ success: Equestrian federation chief
  •  Visitors enjoyed a fun and exciting atmosphere as riders gave their best performances on the field

RIYADH: Saudi showjumpers at this month’s Diriyah Equestrian Festival aren’t just riding to win — they are battling for places at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, the country’s equestrian chief said on Sunday.

“Saudi riders’ participation in international championships is very important,” said Prince Abdullah bin Fahd bin Abdullah, president of the Saudi Equestrian Federation.

“Coming in contact with international riders will provide them with what they need to achieve their ambitions, which we all know are very big. That is why Saudi riders always have remarkable presence on the international level — hard competitors to beat, like the young rider Waleed Al-Ghamdi, who came second in the first stage of the competition.

“We are waiting for the results of this championship to draft the program for the Tokyo Olympics. We have a good chance at winning but, in this sport one can never be sure until the end of the stage. We will always be sure of the self-confidence our riders have, which will be felt as they represent the Kingdom in any competition,” he added.

Prince Abdullah expressed his happiness at the start of the first stage of the International Show Jumping Championship as part of the Diriyah Equestrian Festival

“The success is due to God, the support the sport has from the wise leadership of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA)," he said

The festival — which concludes next weekend, Dec. 19-21 — is taking place at Al-Duhami Farm, the equestrian arena built by Saudi Olympic legend Ramzy Al-Duhami and his wife Sara Baban.

In addition to showjumping, the attractions include art and photography exhibitions, cultural activities and a range of cafes and restaurants.

Visitors enjoyed a fun and exciting atmosphere as riders gave their best performances on the field, showcasing their skills and talents.

Diriyah has always been a symbol of authenticity and culture, while entertainment came with its international sports activities characterized by their sophistication, strength and diversity.

Mohammed Al-Mudayfar, owner of the artistic incubator “Resin Art” taking part in the activities, said: “The exhibition aims at highlighting the Kingdom’s identity in line with the festival’s. By participating, I seek to revive the Kingdom’s culture and introduce it to the visitors.




'Resin Art' exhibition is part of the activities lined up during the two-week Diriyah Equestrian Festival. (Photo/Supplied)

“The exhibition includes 60 Saudi artworks. They received huge support so they can showcase them in a suitable manner, in line with this year’s fun and exciting activities,” he added, noting: “Featured handicrafts, paintings and sculptures are all up for sale.  

“We provide the necessary space and materials for any artist that wishes to showcase his work. Supporting young Saudis and talented ones in particular is a national duty that society should sense its importance especially when it is related to our heritage and traditions.”

The activities area had a part dedicated to kids that has educational and entertainment activities such as painting horse heads made of cork.

Another exhibition called “Objectives” managed by 24-year-old Lama Al-Thubaiti offered visitors a variety of jewelry and accessories that could be modified according to their requests. Al-Thubaiti works as a doctor for people with hearing disabilities and has been working to develop her brand for five years now.

“We are very happy with the visitors’ reaction and our presence here is remarkable as we get ready to open our headquarters soon,” she said.  

The activities area also featured a wide range of restaurants, Saudi and international cafes, a photography corner and cultural facilities such as Arabian and historic horse exhibition, engraving, henna and local artists.

Diriyah Equestrian Festival is taking place for the second year in a row to bring the international event to the Kingdom, reflect the traditional values of equestrianism according to European standards. The event will run for two weeks, providing participants with the chance to qualify to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the World Championship.


Chris Woakes leads England to stunning win over Pakistan in first Test

Updated 14 min 15 sec ago

Chris Woakes leads England to stunning win over Pakistan in first Test

  • England were struggling in pursuit of a victory target of 277 after collapsing to 117-5
  • Victory meant England had won an opening Test for the first time in six series

MANCHESTER: Chris Woakes hit an unbeaten 84 as England came from behind to beat Pakistan by three wickets in the first Test at Old Trafford on Saturday.
England were struggling in pursuit of a victory target of 277 after collapsing to 117-5 on the fourth day.
But man-of-the-match Woakes, who had helped drag England back into this contest with 2-11 in just five overs late Friday, and fellow World Cup winner Jos Buttler turned the tide with a stand of 139.
“It was a brilliant chase,” said England captain Joe Root at the presentation ceremony.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the lads.
“That partnership with Woakesy and Jos was magnificent.
“One thing you can never doubt in our dressing room is the character. I am really proud and pleased that has shone through today.”
Nevertheless, with just 21 more runs needed, Buttler was lbw for 75 after trying to reverse-sweep leg-spinner Yasir Shah.
By the time Pakistan left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Afridi took the new ball, England needed just 13 more runs to win at a sun-drenched Old Trafford.
But there was still time for England to lose their seventh wicket when, with four more needed, Stuart Broad was plumb lbw on the sweep to Yasir.
Woakes, however, finished the match with an edged boundary off Afridi as England went 1-0 up in a three-match campaign.
Victory meant England had won an opening Test for the first time in six series.
Defeat was tough on Yasir, who took eight wickets in the match.
Wicketkeeper Buttler had a poor game in the field, twice missing Shan Masood on 45 during the Pakistan opener’s 156 that was instrumental in leaving England with a first-innings deficit of over a hundred runs.
“If I take those chances, we’re not chasing 270-odd,” Buttler told BBC Radio’s Test Match Special.
“I know it’s not good enough as an international wicketkeeper...If I am going to continue to be a wicketkeeper in this team, I’m going to have to be better,” he admitted.
But Buttler, who led England to a stunning one-wicket win over Australia with an unbeaten century in a one-day international on this ground two years ago, put the pressure back on Pakistan with the bat.
Buttler, whose father was admitted to hospital Friday but has since been released, told Sky Sports: “We (England) turned up today still with a lot of belief.”
Pakistan captain Azhar Ali praised Buttler and Woakes by saying: “They changed the momentum of the game and unfortunately we couldn’t reply to whatever they threw at us.”
Buttler’s fifty came off just 55 balls, with seven fours, with Woakes no slouch in a 59-ball fifty he completed by cover-driving Naseem Shah for the eighth boundary of his innings.
It was Woakes’s highest Test score since his hundred against India two years ago.
Although Woakes is known to be vulnerable to the short ball, Pakistan did not pitch short to the all-rounder until he was well set.
Only twice has a team chased more than 200 to win in the fourth innings of a Test at Old Trafford, with England making 294-4 against New Zealand in 2008 and 231-3 against the West Indies in 2004.
Earlier, England lost four wickets for 31 runs in slipping to 117-5, with Root and Ben Stokes both falling in the collapse.
Root made 42 before he nicked Naseem to Babar Azam in the slips.
Stokes had guided England to an astounding one-wicket win over Australia from a seemingly hopeless position with a brilliant century in the third Ashes Test last year.
But there was no repeat of his Headingley heroics on Saturday when he fell for just nine, with wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan holding an excellent catch after Stokes got a thin glove to a Yasir googly that bounced.
Pakistan resumed on 137-8, a lead of 244.
Yasir struck a quickfire 33, with Pakistan adding 32 in 16 balls Saturday before they were dismissed for 169 in their second innings.
England will now try to complete their first series win over Pakistan in 10 years with victory in the second Test at Southampton starting on Thursday.