A sensational Bassem Hassan Mohamed and his 11-year-old gelding Gunder brought the crowd to its feet as the Qatari rider completed a famous victory at the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Doha.
At the Al Shaqab arena last night, Bassem was the darling of the crowd after the 30-year-old brought home Gunder in style to register his first win on home soil. Bassem had finished runner-up last year in one of the GCT CSI5* events in Doha.
However, this was his second victory on the GCT Grand Prix. In 2014, he had become the first Qatari to win an LGCT Grand Prix when he rode Victoria to victory in Monaco. He also has two runner-up finishes and a bronze medal on the Tour.
But to do it in front of the vociferous home crowd, which turned out in good numbers at Al Shaqab arena, it was a night of dreams for Bassem. The 2014 Asian Games gold medallist had made his intentions clear when he had produced a flawless round to qualify for the CSI5* 1.55/1.60m class jump-off.
Bassem was the fifth to go in the nine-rider jump-off field. With expectations quite high from the crowd, the Qatari rider handled the pressure immaculately.
It was a tricky course, featuring two huge oxers along the grandstand, and a sliding vertical to finish, but Bassem and Gunder rose to the occasion spectacularly. The pair cruised home in 35.31 seconds, the fastest time till then. But with four more pairs yet to finish, it was a nervous wait for Bassem, and thankfully none of them even came close to beating the Qatari rider’s time. Once the victory was confirmed, the crowd erupted in a joy as Bassem basked in glory.
The second place went to Switzerland’s Janika Sprunger on her 11-year-old gelding Bacardi VDL, with the pair coming home in 37.34secs. Sweden’s Peder Fredricson and H&M Christian K finished third in a time of 37.41 seconds.
“I am so happy to have got this win. Thank God it happened at the right time. I’m so happy. It’s amazing,” said a beaming Bassem, who collected € 132,000 for his victory. “It is also a very special feeling for me to receive a commemoration and the cheque from Her Highness Sheikha Moza along with HE Sheikh Joaan alongside the podium,” he added.
Bassem was full praise for his horse Gunder. “My horse was excellent today and he was in a good mood. We really prepared very hard for this class and I’m happy that this win happened. I was quick between the fences and there we had time to go over well,” he said.
On how he handled the pressure of performing in front of the home crowd, Bassem said: “Of course, there is pressure. Everybody here (in Qatar) wanted me to win, I wanted to make everybody and myself happy. I thank God for this victory.”
Hamburg Diamonds clinch Global Champions League title
Meanwhile, Hamburg Diamonds were crowned the overall Global Champions League winners for 2017, with Valkenswaard United taking runner-up spot.
Despite a dazzling win for United in the Doha leg at Al Shaqab yesterday, their nearest rivals Diamonds had done just enough by finishing fifth to strike gold in the race for the overall championship. Some intrepid riding from the Mexico Amigos helped them secure the final spot on the GCL podium in third.
“We gave some hope to United, but at least we finished well,” said Harrie Smolders of the Hamburg Diamonds, who secured an unprecedented double as the star Dutch rider had also won the 2017 Global Champions Tour overall title in the penultimate leg in Rome. His team-mate Eric Lamaze, riding with a rib injury, added: “We wanted to win this — Harrie has done so many clears for the team, so it was my turn to help today.”
Hamburg Diamonds, who collected a whopping €2 million for the victory, had other key players this season in John Whitaker, Piergiorgio Bucci and Jos Verlooy.
United, who took the title in the inaugural GCL last year, were represented by Bertram Allen (Molly Malone) and Alberto Zorzi (Fair Light van’t Heike) in the glittering final and both produced measured double clears to soar clear of a high class field of 18 teams. United took home €1,350,000 in prize money.
“We came here knowing we had to win here today, and unfortunately it wasn’t enough to win the League, but we gave it a good shot all year,” said Bertram. “We’ve had plenty of ups and downs but at least we finished on a really great note.”
CSI5* 1.60m Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Doha (€400,000)
1. Bassem Hassan Mohamed (Qatar) Gunder. Time: 35.31secs. Prize money: €132,000
2. Janika Sprunger (Switzerland) Bacardi VDL. 37.34 secs. €80,000
3. Peder Fredricson (Sweden) H&M Christian K. 37.41secs. €60,000
CSI5* 1.55/1.60m Table A: Against the Clock (€160,350)
1. Kevin Staut (France) Silver Deux de Virton H D C. Time: 73.28secs. Prize money: €52,800
2. Pieter Devos (Belgium) Espoir. 73.97secs. €32,000
3. Sergio Alvarez Moya (Spain) Carlo. 74.23secs. €24,000
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