Sheikh Ali and his horse First Devision were by far the best combination on the field as they flew around the course
Sheikh Ali bin Khalid al-Thani and his trusted 12-year-old gelding First Devision dazzled under the lights at the Qatar Equestrian Federation’s outdoor arena as the ace Qatari rider clinched the Grand Prix of Qatar International Show Jumping championship.
In what was a memorable day for hosts, Qatari riders won all three classes on the last day of the championship. In the Grand Prix, which was also the Arab qualifying event for next year’s World Cup, Sheikh Ali and his Olympic horse First Devision were by far the best combination on the field as they flew around the course. The two were in perfect sync on the night as they came out fastest in 55.77 seconds.
Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander had to settle for second spot once again, after having finished runner-up to Qatar’s Bassem Hassan Mohamed earlier. The two-time Global Champions Tour winner astride Inca Boy Van T Vianahof finished almost eight seconds of winning time. The third place went to Kuwait’s Ali al-Khorafi, flying under the flag of FIE, on Cheril as the pair came home in 53.57 secs but incurred four faults which dealt a blow to victory hopes.
“It’s a good win as it will give me confidence for next week also,” said Sheikh Ali, after collecting his prize from HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani, the president of the Qatar Olympic Committee. “This was very good practice for future events. My horse has won three times before and he was sixth in the Olympics,” he added.
“It seemed too easy for him but to win is always special. It is very important for me to make my country happy. We did that today. We dominated at this championship because we have a good team now. We have good horses and good trainers. We work hard (for the wins) and you can see that every year. Hopefully we will have the best team in the future also,” the popular Qatari rider added.
Despite finishing second, Edwina was content with the results. “I am very happy. This was the first time he went out for this Grand Prix. I couldn’t be happier. I am also happy that Ali won. It was a very good ride by him,” she said.
Earlier, Qatar’s Bassem carried his winning form from the last weekend’s Global Champions Tour, as he clinched the 145cm class. Bassem, astride The Toymaker, took out a comfortable error-free round even as his rivals faltered.
The pair’s winning time of 54.75 was two and half seconds better than Edwina Tops-Alexander, who came home on Veronese Teamjoy in 57.37 secs. Greece’s Athina Onassis committed two faults on Vannan, which meant she had to settle for third place.
“It’s really a nice feeling to win the competition. The horse just came back and we made a plan and it worked. Today was his day,” said Bassem, who pocketed €6,150 for his victory. “The horse just came back to the competition. I am so happy how he jumped today. I am looking forward to the next events,” he added.
His confidence sky high having won the Doha leg of the GCT at Al Shaqab, Bassem looked back at last weekend’s turn of events and called it the best victory of his career. “Last week’s win at Global Champions Tour was the biggest win of my career. To win especially here in Doha, I am so happy. I am motivated for the coming shows. I just need to stay focus and follow the plan from trainers. When you also have support from His Highness the Father Emir, His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, HE Sheikh Joaan, then everything is possible,” the 30-year-old said.
Bassem is currently second in the Arab League rankings with 44 points as he looks good to qualify for the next year’s World Cup in France. “I feel confident. This event may not be as big as GCT but it’s an important one for us. It’s a good class, there are fast riders too and some good horses. In each class you have to respect the riders and horses,” he said
“I am in the second place in the Arab rankings to qualify for the World Cup. I need to finish in the top-3 in total. I will only do two shows here in Doha and will skip the rest. Then wait and see what will happen,” he added.
In the opening event of the final day, Qatar’s Saeed Nasser al-Qadi mounting Daydreamer EC cruised to victory in the 135 cm class. The two combined to record the fastest time of 66.36 secs, which was a good six seconds ahead of their nearest rival. France’s Cyrine Cherif (Gerlin VD Waterkant) finished second, while Kuwait’s Yara al-Hunaidi (Dinky Toy van de Castershoeve) riding under the flag of FEI came third.
GRAND PRIX - World Cup Competition | Two Rounds Min 140 - Max. 160cm Prize money: €91,900
1. Sheikh Ali bin Khalid al-Thani (Qatar) First Devision. Time: 55.77 secs. Prize money: €22,975
2 Edwina Tops-Alexander (Australia) Inca Boy Van T Vianahof. 63.09 secs. €18,380
3. Ali al-Khorafi (FEI) Cheril 4. 53.57 secs. €13,785
Table A, One Round + Winning Round FEI Art. 276.2.1, 2.3 | Max. 145 cm | €24,600
1. Bassem Mohamed (Qatar) The Toymaker. Time: 54.75 seconds. Prize money: €6,150
2. Edwina Tops-Alexander (Australia) Veronese Teamjoy. 57.37 secs. €4,920
3. Athina Onassis (Greece) Vannan. 77.06 secs. €3,690
Table A, Against the clock FEI Art. 238.2.1 | Max. 130/135 cm | Prize Money €7,000
1. Saeed Nasser al-Qadi (Qatar) Daydreamer EC. Time: 66.36 secs. Prize money: €1,750
2. Cyrine Cherif (France) Gerlin VD Waterkant. 73.05 secs. €1,400
3. Yara al-Hunaidi (FEI) Dinky Toy van de Castershoeve. 79.32 secs. €1,050
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