Take note! The 7th edition of Morocco Royal Tour proved a true triumph and equestrian hotspot, setting the chic scene as an A-list destination for international riders.
By Maria Graae. Photo by Maria Graae & J.Rodrigues
“The only thing warmer than the Moroccan sun is the warmth of it’s people,” said international ringmaster Pedro Cebulk, when international riders and Moroccan home-crowd favourites met up at the 2016 Morocco Royal Tour, September 29th to October 16th 2016, on three successive weekends in the cities of Tétouan, Rabat and El Jadida. Highlights of this 7th edition included three Longines FEI World Cup Qualifying competitions rated CSI3*W; a total of 27 classes, including 12 counting for the Longines FEI Ranking List as well as a totalled prize money of €531,000.
We joined the Rabat leg, featuring a showground part of the Royal Equestrian Club Dar Essalam, located just ten kilometres from the very centre of Rabat, capital of Morocco and home of the vast Royal Palace. A city also famed for the Hassan Tower and Mausoleum of Mohammed V, guarded by remarkably handsome horsemen in traditional military attire, situated on top of a hill offering panoramic views of the city and the Atlantic Ocean. But its´ only once you’ve entered through the heavy wooden gate into the Royal Equestrian Club Dar Essalam, the true magic that is Morocco is revealed, a green wonderful old argan trees provides welcome shade from the sun and gives the impression of almost being in an magic forest of vibrant colours, hues, shades paired with stunning horses.
The royal club was established in 1971 under the patronage of His Majesty King Hassan II, the Club had the honour of having the then Crown Prince His Majesty King Mohammed VI as its first President. Today the swoon-worthy private stables of the royal family is located within the grounds of the equestrian Club, although not open to casual visitors, unlike the rest of the impressive grounds which also houses a charming café, several tack shops, a pony club, veterinary clinic and highly qualified instructor’s in both dressage and jumping. The horses are stabled in spacious stables overlooking the charming views and gleaming green.
With the private royal stables and old trees as a backdrop, the spacious state-of-the-art showing proved to be a magnet for spectators and true top sport, creating an electric sophisticated atmosphere not to be missed, as onlookers was eager to cheer on the international competitors and home-crowd favourite Olympic star, Abdelkebir Ouaddar.
New in 2016, the Morocco Royal Tour hosted a CSIO3* FEI Nations Cup during the Rabat stage, featuring a total of ten countries, the Irish, the Italian and the Moroccan riders looked dashing in their uniforms, drawing female attention in plenty but it was the Belgium team that came out on top, jumping to victory with a total of zero point. Italy followed in a second place, collecting a total of four penalties. Saudi-Arabia, Morocco and Switzerland tied for third place, all finishing with a total of 8 points.
For the second year in a row, it was Swiss star Pius Schwizer who earned top honours in the highlight event, the 61,800 euro Grand Prix de Feue S.A.R La princes Lalla Amina. The class saw 42 international starters take on the Round 1 track designed by Italy’s Uliano Vezzani, but despite the immense talent present, no combination could keep the zero on the scoreboard. All ten of those who suffered four faults advanced to the second round. Schwizer rode the fastest second round in an edge-of-the seat jump-off and secured the class aboard his impressive gelding Balou Rubin R.
– It was a big big Grand Prix for a three-stars, Schwizer said about the class. -I think Vezzani is the best course designer of the world. It was not the highest course today, but it was still very difficult. My horse jumped very good. It’s been a good day for me, Schwizer smiled.
We also caught up with Olympic gold 2016 medallist Phillippe Rozier, trainer of the Moroccan national showjumping team, on the final evening of the show to learn more on his inside knowledge on Moroccan equestrian sport;
– I first joined the Moroccan Royal Tour 4 years ago and the show has kept on improving, the facilities and atmosphere is unmistakably a five star through and through. But to develop the many talented Moroccan riders, we feel a three star event is a better fit, the charming Rozier stated. – Winning the Olympics was a dream come true, but every day life; training and going to shows that´s my true adrenalin, there’s more spotlight on me now, but I’m the same person and keep on living the same life, we’ll continue the work with the Moroccan riders and its some thing I enjoy very much. The King as well as the president of the Moroccan´ equestrian federation have wen’t all in and through massive investment and hard work, we have a very good team and amazing show venues, the future looks bright, added Rozier.
The Moroccan Royal Tour is Organized by the Equestrian Royal Federation of Morocco, the Salon du Cheval d’El Jadida Association and the Royal Guard, under the aegis of the FEI. More information: www.mrt.ma