Piazza di Siena: the United Arab Emirates’ debut in the Intesa Sanpaolo Nations Cup

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Omar Abdul Aziz Al Marzooqi a Le Lame Sport Horses

Omar Abdul Aziz Al Marzooqi – ph. Le Lame International / M.Proli.

There is a first time for everything. The UAE team is attending the Intesa Sanpaolo Nations Cup for the first time. In some of the most recent editions of the equestrian competition in Rome (in 2017 and 2021), some of the Emirati riders took part only on an individual basis.

However, Rome will be an important testing ground for the entire UAE team on the road to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

The 50-year-old Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi is the most experienced of the five riders who will be competing in Piazza di Siena. But the team also includes two ‘millennials’: 21-year-old Omar Abdul Aziz Al Marzooqi and nearly 22-year-old Ali Hamad Al Kirbi. The other members of the team are 39-year-old Abdullah Mohd Al Marri and 35-year-old Salim Ahmed Al Suwaidi.

l Marzooqi is not only the third youngest of the 82 participants in this edition of the competition, but is also the highest ranked Emirati rider in the FEI (no. 330), making him the number one rider in his country, as well as 63rd in the under-25 category.

At international level, he has been in the limelight since his youth: at the age of 15, he won the individual silver medal at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires on La Corina Lala, beaten only by the Italian Giacomo Casadei, and finished fourth in the team competition at the same event. More recently, with Dalida van de Zuuthoeve, he won two medals at the Hangzhou 2023 Asian Games: individual silver and team bronze.

The Emirati riders have been preparing for Piazza di Siena by taking part in several horse shows in Italy: since the end of March they have been in Busto Arsizio, Gorla Minore and Montefalco. At the latter event, Al Marzooqi himself won the Grand Prix of the 4* Umbrian event, riding Enjoy de la Mure, which he will ride again in Rome.

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