Juan Carlos Garcia Sets the Pace in Qatar

Juan Carlos Garcia of Italy and his swift mount Paulin took the opening 5* class of the Longines Global Champions Tour final leg at the magnificent Al Shaqab in Doha. Current European Champion Roger Yves Bost and Castle Forbes Cosma was just 0.4s behind in second with Germany’s Johannes Ehning in third place. There was early success in the event on home soil for local Qatari riders Hamad Ali Mohamed Al Attiyah and Faleh Suwead Al Ajami who finished in 4th and 6th and joined the prize giving ceremony.

The opening 5* class of the final event of the 2013 Longines Global Champions Tour series saw the best horses and riders on the planet compete at the world-class Al Shaqab equestrian facility in  Qatar. With the final Grand Prix of this year’s Tour to be held on Saturday, the eyes of the equestrian world will be on the top riders and their mounts here in the Middle East.

Saturday’s Longines Global Champions Tour Final will have a prize pot of €450,000 with an additional €1million shared among the highest placed riders of the season – the overall Champion receiving the lion’s share. The key contenders for the 2013 title all performed well this evening making it impossible to pick the potential overall Champion.  

Al Shaqab, part of the Qatar Foundation, is hosting the Longines Global Champions Tour for the first time and already leading riders have been praising the fantastic facilities at the state-of-the-art venue. Al Shaqab Director Fahad Saad Al Qahtani said: “We are blessed with this facility which can showcase what we are doing. Basically the sky is the limit with Al Shaqab. The Global Champions Tour is one of the most prestigious events globally. Having the finals here is also a bonus.”

The spectacular setting saw some great results from the home riders Sheihk Ali bin Khaled Al Thani, Bassem Hassan Mohammed, Mubarak Yousef Al Rumaihi and Faleh Suwead Al Ajami and Hamad Ali Mohamed Al Attiyah.

Today’s class provided an early chance for the world’s finest riders and horses to warm up ahead of the competitions tomorrow and on Saturday. The colourful fences in the vast 120m x 80m sand arena were at 1.45m but will rise to 1.50-1.55m for the evening’s second competition.

The first day of the event also saw a large number of young Qatari riders take part in 2* competitions in the main arena with onlookers keen to watch the equestrian talent of the future in action.