There is no stopping Julien Epaillard at the Longines Arena at Al Shaqab. The Frenchman, who had won the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix Doha title last year, continued his love affair with the magnificent arena as he clinched both the showjumping classes on the opening day of the Commercial Bank CHI Al Shaqab Presented by Longines yesterday.
The 42-year-old was in a class of his own as he first won the CSI5* Two Phases 1.45m with 10-year-old chestnut gelding Alibi de La Roque, before bagging the main event of the day — CSI5* 1.50m — with 11-year-old stallion Virtuose Champeix. Incidentally, Epaillard and Virtuose Champeix had also combined to win the opening day event at the last year’s CHI Al Shaqab.
“I’m very happy with both my wins today. The feature class was a very fast race, but the horse performed fantastically. It’s always a pleasure to come back to the Al Shaqab arena and win here. Al Shaqab has one of the best facilities for horses and riders and I enjoy competing here,” said Epaillard, who bagged a combined purse of €30,075.
Epaillard has been in red-hot form recently having won many events in Europe and is considered as one of the fastest riders at the moment. Yesterday, he lived up to the billing in the 1.50m class. In a close contest with Britain’s Scott Brash, Epaillard crossed the finish line in 64.09 seconds with Virtuose Champeix blazing the course with mix of speed and precision. Brash was just .16 seconds behind on his trusted 11-year-old bay Hello Shelby, while the Dutchman Maikel van der Vleuten took the final podium spot with Dana Blue in 65.87 seconds.
“Even though we finished second, I’m not disappointed. It was a good round and I’m looking forward to the next few events,” said Brash.
In afternoon’s two phases 1.45m class, Epaillard had taken the top spot with Alibi de La Roque after timing 32.74 and 25.10 seconds in two rounds. Van der Vleuten was second this time with Edinburgh (32.99 and 26.18 secs), while Italian Emanuele Gaudiano was third on Kingston van het Eikenhof (31.23 and 26.27 secs) .
Earlier, the opening day of the championship began with the para-dressage competition at Al Shaqab’s indoor arena. Allowing a 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.
Norway’s Jens Lass Dokkan topped the first competition, the Grade 1 with his 12-year-old gelding Aladdin. The 58-year-old, who is aiming to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, tallied 73.988 points. If selected for the Tokyo Games, Dokkan will be the only rider on the start list to have competed at every Games since the sport made its debut in Atlanta 1996.
Dokkan has picked up a trio of bronze medals in Sydney in 2000, and a silver in Beijing in 2008. There have been few silvers and bronzes at European and World level too and he continued to show his skills at Al Shaqab yesterday. Dokkan, who is a grade I rider, with the highest level of impairment, started riding at four years old, before taking a break from it between the ages of eight and 15 and slowly developing his dressage skill.
The other para-dressage competitions were won by Pepo Puch of Austria on Fuerst Chili; Rixt van der Horst of the Netherlands astride Findsley NOP; Brazil’s Rodolpho Riskalla on Don Frederic and Belgium’s Ciska Vermeulen on Rohmeo.
CSI5* Table A (238.2.1) 1.50m
1. Julien Epaillard (FRA); Horse: Virtuose Champeix; Time: 64.09 seconds; Prize money: €23,725
2. Scott Brash (GBR); Hello Shelby; 64.25 seconds; €18,980
3. Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) Dana Blue; 65.87 seconds; €14,235
CSI5* Two Phases (274.2.5) 1.45m
1. Julien Epaillard (FRA) Horse: Alibi de La Roque; Time: 32.74 and 25.10 secs. Prize money: €6,350
2. Maikel van der Vleuten (NED); Edinburgh; 32.99 and 26.18 secs, €5,080
3. Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA); Kingston van het Eikenhof; 31.23 and 26.27 secs. €3,810
CPEDI3* Team I (I Team)
1. Jens Lasse Dokkan (NOR) Horse: Aladdin; Total: 73.88 points; Prize money: €330
2. Magdalena Cycak (POL); Sybilla; 62.679 points; €250
CPEDI3* Team II (II Team)
1. Pepo Puch (AUT); Horse: Fuerst Chili; Total: 74.293 points; Prize money: €330
2. Martina Benzinger (GER); Fritzzantino; 71.363 points; €250
3. Annemarieke Nobel (NED) Highlight; 66.263 points; €200
CPEDI3* Team III (III Team)
1. Rixt van der Horst (NED); Horse: Findsley NOP; Total: 72.500 points; Prize money: €330
2. Barbara Minneci (BEL) Stuart; 64.804 points; Prize money: €250
CPEDI3* Team IV (IV Team)
1. Rodolpho Riskalla (BRA); Horse: Don Frederic; Total: 74.500 points; Prize money: €300
2. Lotte Krijnsen (NED); Rosenstolz; 71.000 points; €250
3. Philippa Mary Johnson (RSA); Lord Louis; 70.500 points; €200
CPEDI3* Team V (V Team)
1. Ciska Vermeulen (BEL); Horse: Rohmeo; Total: 72.132 points; €300
2. Valentina Strobl (AUT); Bequia Simba; 69.690 points; €250
3. Kevin van Ham (BEL) Eros Van Ons Heem; 67.287 points; €200
Longines Qatar Equestrian Tour Hathab
Dressage Level 1
1. Ali Mohamed al-Marri (QAT); Horse: Fernhill Friendly Touch. 69.828 points.
2. Jessica Waldon (GBR) Lusso Del Castegno; 69.655 points
3.Saeed Hamad al-Rashdi (GBR) Graffiti De Lully Ch
Dressage Level 2
1. Mohamed Nasser al-Qadi (QAT); Horse: Gin Tonic van de Kranenburg. 69.286 points
2. Abdulaziz Ghanim al-Nuaimi (QAT); Bandito; 68.571 points
3. Ali Mohammed al-Qadi (QAT); Guiness; 68.214 points
9am-11am: Longines Hathab Small Tour 1-1.15m: Outdoor Arena
9.45am-12.45pm: Para Dressage Individual Test (CPED13*): Indoor Arena
1pm-3pm: Longines Hathab Medium Tour 1.20-1.30m: Outdoor Arena
3pm-6pm: Dressage Grand Prix Test (CDI5*): Indoor Arena
3.45pm-5.15pm: Showjumping Against the Clock 1.50m (CSI5*): Outdoor Arena
6pm-6.45pm: Al Shaqab Competition for Children 1.00m: Outdoor Arena
7.30pm-9.30pm: Showjumping with Jump-Off (CSI5*) 1.60m: Outdoor Arena
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