Stage set for podium battles as world’s best arrive in Qatar
Wednesday 08 November 2017
An “unbelievable” high quality field of 17 of the top 20 riders in the world of show jumping are set for podium battles in the finals of the Longines Global Champions Tour and Global Champions League at AL SHAQAB.
The outstanding line up of star riders and horses again promises to deliver scintillating sport as the 2017 reaches its climax in Doha.
LGCT President and GCL Co-Founder Jan Tops said at the opening press conference at AL SHAQAB: “You see through the years, and especially this year, that the best riders in the world prepare their horses for these events. Now we are at the final of the season and the riders have their best horses here. The statistics speak for themselves. We can speak as much as we want but that is a fact.”
Speaking about AL SHAQAB as the venue for the finals Jan Tops added: “It is great to be here at this special place. Qatar works very hard to promote the heritage of the horse and on the development of the sport to a high level, which we have seen on an Olympic level.
“AL SHAQAB is not only a magnificent place, but it is very horse-friendly; the footing is great, the stabling is the best condition - it’s an example for every event. That is why we love to be here in Qatar.”
Omar K. Al Mannai, AL SHAQAB Event Director, said: “Thank you to Jan Tops for his belief in our potential here in Qatar and AL SHAQAB as a venue where he can host his final of the Tour. As part of Qatar National Vision 2030 we believe Qatar has become a sport hub and GCT supports this by bringing the top riders and horses. We are engaging with the community with our activities and engaging them about our tradition and heritage.”
With only 17 points separating the five top athletes who can win the remaining podium places in the LGCT Championship, the battle will be intense.
Marco Danese, LGCT and GCL Sports Director, said: “It will be a big battle. We have 17 out of the top 20 best riders in the world here and that means unbelievable quality of riders and they are here with their best horses. And five of them are fighting to be on the podium. The battle is open. For sure they are here to be on the podium, it is the goal of the season.”
That final will unfold in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Doha on Saturday starting at 18:00 Local Time in Qatar and will be broadcast live on GCT TV.
Harrie Smolders (NED) will be crowned LGCT Champion of 2017 after winning the title at the previous event in Rome leaving a ferocious fight among the contenders for second and third place in the overall series.
Global Champions League teams will be in hot contention with Round 1 tomorrow and the final on Saturday afternoon. Hamburg Diamonds and Valkenswaard United are head to head for the overall championship title and five other teams are challenging for the other podium places. 18 teams have competed in the GCL this year tactically fielding top rider and horse combinations to get the edge ahead of their rivals in the championship.
Marco Danese said: “It has been a very exciting season. The teams are here with their best horses and it is really really open.”
Home heroes Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani and Bassem Hassan Mohammed will be in action in the individual LGCT competitions and riding for home team Doha Fursan Qatar in the Global Champions League. National riders will be able to watch the leading Qatari riders in action in the impressive floodlit arena.
Speaking about the progress of the top Qatari riders like Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani, who finished 6th in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Jan Tops said: “If I see the progress made from five years ago it has been incredible and I hope we can make some steps forward again for the next Olympics. And it is important to develop the next generation and give them experience and get them ready for the next four to eight years and more.”
AL SHAQAB is celebrating its 25th anniversary since it was founded by HH The Father Emir and will welcome international guests and local dignitaries as well as showcasing its Riding Academy and work to develop the young talent of the future in equestrian sport.
For the full rider list, please click here.
For tickets and further information, please click here.