In the presence of AL SHAQAB Vice Chairperson Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad al Thani, and under the flags of 23 participating countries raised over the state-of-the-art AL SHAQAB arena, 31 riders and their horses cantered onto the arena floor to mark the beginning of the CHI AL SHAQAB 2013 with a show jumping tour.
Jumping over obstacles set in place by the Argentinian Leopoldo Palacios who designed the Doha-inspired course, the riders completed the Small Tour CSI3*, a two-phase competition, over a 1.30m track.
Alia Humaid Bin Drai, a female rider from the United Arab Emirates, ranked third at the end of the first Small Tour-CSI3* class commented on the course: “The AL SHAQAB facilities are incredible, easily one of the best in the world. I am absolutely delighted to be competing here in Doha.”
Cyrine Cherif, a French competitor, was also full of praise: “I think the course was fantastic. It was a real CSI3* course, and there were some technical aspects. Overall, it was a great track to ride, a wonderful way to gain experience and good for the horses.”
Omar Al Mannai, CHI AL SHAQAB Event Director said, “I am delighted that we can finally present to the world the CHI AL SHAQAB. We have a busy schedule over the next four days, encompassing three disciplines – show jumping, dressage and endurance. I am confident that every rider here will agree that this is one of the most beautiful equestrian venues in the world.”
He added, “The event is also the perfect opportunity to demonstrate Qatar’s rich heritage in equine culture and sport.”
The small tour will be followed at 2.00 pm by the first qualifier for the Medium Grand Prix – a 1.40m class against the clock – which will see 62 riders vying for a place in Friday’s Medium Tour Grand Prix.
Finally, the cream of world show jumping will take centre stage on Thursday at 6.00pm with 35 of the very best riders coming forward for the CSI5* Big Tour against the clock. Among the starters will be the reigning Olympic individual gold and silver medallists Steve Guerdat (Sweden) and Gerco Schroder (Netherlands), plus the winner of the 2012 Global Champions Tour, Edwina Tops-Alexander (Australia).
The many visitors attending this first day of competition gathered to cheer on riders throughout the day, flocking to the 17,000 square metre spectator plaza. Open to all members of the public, it boasted a spectacular array of family-orientated activities, including a fashion exhibition and trade market, a dedicated ‘kids zone’, an international food court, and a multitude of cultural presentations and events.
Day two of the festival is set to commence at 10.00am tomorrow in the main arena. The day’s programme features a range of top competition with the some of the world’s best riders competing.