DOHA, The stage is set at Al Shaqab as the Longines Global Champions Tour of Doha gets under way tomorrow. 50 riders from 15 different nations are entered in these top-level competitions, bringing their leading horses to compete under the lights in the Qatari capital. The riders will be pulling out all the stops and selecting their best horses to get those early ranking points and aim to secure their golden tickets to the LGCT Super Grand Prix at the GC Prague Playoffs in November.
Today sees a warm-up class for the combinations to get a feel for the stunning Longines Arena, allowing the horses to acclimatise to their surroundings before the competition kicks off tomorrow (Thursday) with the first round of the GCL team competition.
Nine out of the top ten riders from the 2019 LGCT overall ranking at the New York Finals are competing this weekend, and in the incredible facilities of Al Shaqab, it’s set to be a spectacle of world-class show jumping across all three days.
Many of the riders have brought their top horses to Qatar for this opening leg, hoping to start the season with a bang. Belgian brothers Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) and Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) have brought some top talent, with Nicola riding H&M Chilli Willi and Katanga v. H Dingeshof, who jumped consistently well in last week’s CHI competition at Al Shaqab, placing 5th in the Grand Prix. Olivier, meanwhile, rides his super stallion H&M Extra.
Olympian Scott Brash (GBR) brings Hello Senator and Hello Shelby to compete in this year’s opening leg. Hello Senator competed at LGCT Doha in 2019, so he is well equipped to deal with the expansive arena and electric atmosphere and will be one to watch this weekend.
Meanwhile, last year’s two-time LGCT Grand Prix winner Maikel van der Vleuten (NEL) brings two talented horses to Doha, Arera C and Beauville Z, the latter of who is a previous LGCT Grand Prix winner.
Shane Breen (IRE) brings Z7 Ipswich to Doha this year. Ipswich gave Shane his first LGCT Grand Prix win at LGCT Monaco in 2018, and has been on flying form during the winter, making this an exciting partnership to watch this season.
Other exciting horses to watch are Marcus Ehning (GER) with his popular chestnut stallion Funky Fred, Evelina Tovek (SWE) with Dalila de la Pomme, and Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) with Best Boy 2 and Castello 194.
All riders and teams will be starting on a clean sheet as the 2020 Championship race gets under way, and it’s all to play for at this early stage to get a head start on the LGCT rankings and on qualification for the LGCT Super Grand Prix.
Watch all these top riders and horses in action live on GCTV from tomorrow, Thursday 5 March until Saturday 7 March – tune in from 15:00 local time tomorrow.
Source: Qatar Olympic Committee