Ranking leader and World Number 1 Scott Brash (GBR) stole the show with Hello Forever in Qatar in a sensational prelude to the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Doha. The stunning night lights of AL SHAQAB illuminated a dramatic duel between Scott and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE) in a taste of what lies ahed in a spellbinding climax to the season tomorrow. In the end Rolf came agonisingly close to victory with a stunning round on his grey stallion Clarimo ASK, finishing just seven tenths of a second behind Scott.
On the penultimate day of the Longines Global Champions Tour 2015 season, the temperature rose as riders fought to win a share of the €153,000 prize fund in the CSI5* 1.50/1.55m jump-off class.
Earlier, The Father Emir, His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bin Nasser All Missned watched Qatari national riders competing at AL SHAQAB and saw Longines Global Champions Tour President Jan Tops and his wife Edwina Tops-Alexander present rosettes to young riders in the special academy at the equestrian complex.
Then all eyes were on the big competition of the night as 46 contenders took to the vast 120m x 80m sand arena for a feast of high caliber show jumping featuring the world’s leading riders.
Italy’s Uliano Vezzani designed a flowing course, centEred around two long lines of fences across the middle of the huge sand arena and posed a fair test ahead of tomorrow’s main Grand Prix. Germany’s Marco Kutscher got the class off to an excellent start, jumping clear with the 11 year old chestnut stallion Balermo, with third to go, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, guaranteeing a jump-off early on after a brilliant clear on the athletic Fibonacci 17.
With 10 of the first 24 combinations clear, it looked like there would be a large jump off, however with the next 12 riders failing to post a clear round, it was clear that the course was not as straight forward as initially perceived. Causing particular trouble was a line of two contrasting doubles across the diagonal on a committed related distance, which caught out many of these top-class combinations. The vertical to an oxer, six strides to another big oxer into the second double and a short distance to a tall vertical coming out threw in a few challenges, with Title contender Luciana Diniz (POR) and Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum two of the biggest names to get caught out in dramatic style.