By Sports Reporter/Doha
Julien Epaillard continued his love affair with the Al Shaqab arena as the Frenchman bagged the feature class on the opening day of the CHI Al Shaqab equestrian championship.
Epaillard had stunned the odds last Saturday when he clinched the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix Doha title. And the inform Epaillard picked up from where left, as he galloped with 10-year-old chestnut stallion Virtuose Champeix to victory in CSI5* 1.50m speed class under lights yesterday.
The pair jumped for a flawless routine coming come in 58.86 seconds, which gave the rider €23,375 in prize money. In second place was Brazilian Yuri Mansur on dark bay gelding Carlson in a time of 61.19secs, followed by another French rider Kevin Staut astride bay gelding Evert claimed in third spot in 61.64secs. Epaillard was delighted to extend his winning run. “I am very happy. I saw Yuri Mansur in the lead and so tried to be faster. It worked and it is a fantastic day for me. I took a risk and it worked. Al Shaqab has one of the best facilities for horses and riders and I enjoy competing here.”
Jos Verlooy of Belgium jumped to first place in the CSI5* 1.45m class. Verlooy and his stallion, Caracas, completed the two phases with no faults, finishing in 33.77 seconds to win first place and prize money of €6,250.
Geir Gulliksen of Norway came second on VDL Groep Quatro with a time of 34.93 seconds. Simon Delestre of France and Filou Carlo Zimequest finished third after coming home in 35.10 seconds.
Verlooy said: “It was great to win. My horse jumped super. He decided to go faster the first day – that was my plan, so that was good. Al Shaqab has an unbelievable stadium, the facilities are super for the riders and horses. It’s my fourth time here and I really like to come here (to participate). I’m looking forward to the Grand Prix on Saturday.”
Earlier, the opening day of the championship began with the para-dressage competition at Al Shaqab’s indoor arena. Allowing for fair competition and to create the opportunity for riders of all skills to achieve their goals in equestrian sport, the competition was conducted in grades depending on the disability, according to FEI (International Equestrian Federation) standards.
Singapore’s Laurentia Yen-Yi Tan topped the first competition with her 13-year-old bay gelding Florenzius S. The other competitions were won by Julie Payne of Britain on Pandora, Annemarieke Roling-Nobel of the Netherlands on Doo Schufro, Brazilian Rodolpho Riskalla on Don Henrico and Ciska Vermeulen of Belgium with horse Rohmeo.
Participants of the Al Shaqab Inter-nations Camp conducted by the center’s Equine Education Department, had an intense day as the second and final round of qualifications were conducted. In the lead was Team Barzan - led by Qatari rider Ghanim Nasser al-Qadi with Oliver George Tuff from Great Britain and Abdulaziz Ghanim al-Nuaimi from Qatar also part of the team. In a fairly close second place was Zekreet, a team comprising Ali Mohamed al-Qadi of Qatar, Gautier Lenoir from France and Henning Josef Athens of Germany. The best individual timing was achieved by Fraser Hayden Reed, of Great Britain, who completed his course in 66.17 seconds with no faults.
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