At the age of 28 Abdullah Al Sharbatly hit the headlines when he won the silver medal at the Alltech World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010. That he qualified for the Rolex Final Four was a surprise to everyone, that he came second stunned the equestrian world and put Saudi Arabia equestrianism in the spotlight. He was the youngest competitor and the least experienced in this ultimate test of horsemanship.
Al Sharbatly was born in London in 1982. His parents were resident in the UK at the time and his father, who sadly died prematurely, has been, Al Sharbatly says, the greatest influence on his life.
He began riding in the UK at a young age, and at 7 began competing. He entered his first international competition at Hickstead in 1996, when he was only 14 (coincidentally, Hickstead was the name of the horse on which he completed his fourth clear round in the WEG Rolex Final Four.)
Sharbatly’s talent was first noticed by Ziyad Abduljawad at Aaachen in 2006, and Abdullah became part of the strong team then being assembled.
At the age of 16 he won the Pan Arab Games, becoming the Arab Champion, and followed this with a string of notable team and individual wins: the Belgian Grand Prix, the Asian Games and the Egyptian World Cup in 2006, the Pan Arab Games (2007), the Riyadh Grand Prix (2009), and in 2010 the Dubai and Sharjah World Cups, and the Swedish Grand Prix.
Sharbatly came to the 2012 Olympics as World silver medallist and franked the form from Kentucky by helping secure the bronze medal in the team event in London.
Abdullah Al Sharbatly’s family have always owned horses, and he himself has owned more than he can remember. He buys and sells horses so often that he reckons he should be in the Guinness Book of Records. His talent and adaptability mean that he can buy a horse one day and compete successfully the next. His 12-year-old bay mare, Seldana di Campalto, was only bought 6 weeks before the WEG in Kentucky (a long time for Al Sharbatly), but the chemistry was right. His ability immediately to understand any horse was part of the reason for the silver medal, it being a competition that requires the finalists to ride all the other competitors’ horses at a moment’s notice. He has a similar bond and record of success with his 13-year-old stallion Goldex.
Having trained in his early years with Peter Charles, the Anglo-Irish show jumper, he now trains in earnest with SE coach Stanny Van Paesschen in Wisbecq.
Abdullah has a BA in Business Administration, but horses are his life. Winning comes naturally to him, and the public recognition that resulted from his silver medal in Lexington and the bronze in London he takes in his stride, almost as his due. He knows he is good but he knows he can do better. He has a wise head on his young shoulders, confidence in his own abilities, and the same devotion to his team, country and religion that are the hallmarks of Saudi Equestrian.
2012 London Olympic Games • Bronze Medal in the Team Competition • =51st as an individual on Sultan
2010 Asian Games, Guangzhou • Gold Medal in the Team Competition
2010 World Championship, Lexington • Silver medal as an individual on Seldana Di Campalto • 8th as a team on Seldana Di Campalto
2010 World Cup, Geneva • 43rd as an individual on Goldex
2007 Eleventh Pan Arab Games • Gold Medal in the Team Competition
2006 Asian Games, Doha • Gold Medal in the Team Competition
2006 World Cup, Kuala Lumpur • 22nd as an individual on Quatro
2006 World Championship, Aachen • 101st as an individual on Hugo Gesmeray • 22nd as a team on Hugo Gesmeray
2005 World Cup, Las Vegas • 39th as an individual on Neuville
2004 Tenth Pan Arab Games • Gold Medal in the Team Competition