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Looking back to CHI Al Shaqab 2014

With the third CHI Al Shaqab on the horizon, it is time to look back to last year when spectators watched top class riders battling it out in the large arena of Al Shaqab – the host, organizer and soul behind the success of this top class event, always with ExxonMobil on their side as the main sponsor of the event.

The riders call him “The Grey Wolf” – and at CHI Al Shaqab 2014 he had bitten them again. Ludger Beerbaum, now 51 and rather grey haired – hence the name – left Doha with a big purse.

Riding Chiara, the multiple Olympic medallist won the Grand Prix Al Shaqab, taking 214,000 Euro out of the pool of 650,000 Euro in total. Showing all his class and riding brilliantly, Beerbaum managed to stay clear in both rounds plus the jump-off, finishing with his time of 37.02 seconds and besting Belgian Gregory Wathelet who needed 40.73 seconds in the jump-off.

Podium
Ludger Beerbaum on the highest step of the CSI5* podium with two Belgian riders, Gergory Watelte who came second and Nicola Philippaerts third. © 2015 CHI Al Shaqab

Almost four seconds difference – that is close to eternity in jumping when the riders take every risk to cut corners. Third-placed Belgian Nicola Philipaerts could have won, finishing with 36.2 seconds, but one pole down made him drop back in the ranking.

Thirty years in top sport by now, Beerbaum was the best in a field of world class riders

Thirty years in top sport by now, Beerbaum was the best in a field of world class riders. His Swedish student Henrik von Eckermann completed the results for Beerbaum’s Riesenbeck stables by winning another competition of the 5* series, riding Toulouse and piloting Gotha into Grand Prix money. Only a year earlier von Eckermann had taken over Gotha from his coach for the World Cup and European championships. From Doha he continued with Gotha at the World Equestrian Games.

The current Olympic champion, Steve Guerdat, shone at Doha too. The Swiss celebrated two wins, deciding the big and small tour of the 5*series with two horses, Sidney and Nasa.

Highlignts of the 3* series

Highlight of the 3*series with altogether eight competitions was the Grand Prix of Qatar Foundation. Qatari riders shone in this competition worth 40,000 Euro. Hamad Nasser AL QADI won, riding Westphalian Limoncello extra carefully in the jump-off. He took the risk of taking one time penalty but bested Bassem Hassan Mohammed riding Anyway and Awad AlQathani with Sjoeke. Both their horses had taken one rail down, making them finish on four faults.

Bassen Hassan Mohammed
Qatari rider Bassen Hassan Mohammed. © 2015 CHI Al Shaqab

The Grand Prix of Qatar Foundation was a huge success for Qatar: The top nine riders carried the host’s flag showing positive results of the ongoing training campaign, at home in Qatar as well as abroad.

Dressage

Top class riders presented their skills in the dressage arena as well with a field of 15 still in for the Freestyle.

Winner Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein
Winner Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein with Pedro Cebulka of the well-known charity JustWorld International. © 2015 CHI Al Shaqab

Riding for Denmarck, Princess Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein and her home bred Digby took the Grand Prix class as well as the Freestyle. By now Digby is retired and enjoying life in the stable where he was born and the princess has given birth to her second child.

Gymnasts on horseback

If jumping and dressage had been first class the vaulting was in a special league again. For the first time the “gymnasts on horse back” appeared in the Gulf region and they brought the house down with their artistic performances. Wow, that was acrobatics at its finest, especially watching the teams perform.

Top vaulters
Top vaulters from Europe were out to Doha. © 2015 CHI Al Shaqab

Germany had two teams of six and in the end Cologne bested the mega-champions from Neuss, followed by team Harlekin from Switzerland. Three vaulters on top of each other on a cantering horse, doing its rounds on a lunge line. Not only do you need to be brave to try this but you have to be absolutely free of any fear of heights as well. The top “flyer” is at least five meters in the air – and nobody wants to suddenly fall down from up there.

Vaulting horse
A beautiful pic of a vaulting horse with his very special tack. © 2015 CHI Al Shaqab

Austria celebrated a double win in the Pas de Deux. Jasmin Lindner and Lukas Wacha bested Stefan Csandl and Theresa Thiel. Both pairs vaulted on the same horse, Bram. Two German pairs ranked in front of the US-combination Cassidy and Kimberly Palmer. Artistic interpretation of music and movement could be seen in the individual classes too. They had lured the top vaulters from Europe out to Doha. Swiss world champion Patrick Looser and his horse Fabiola won the men’s competition, followed by two top Germans, Erik Oese and Thomas Brüsewitz. Oese vaulted on Don de la Mar and Brüsewitz took the aptly named Airbus.

Vaulting
© 2015 CHI Al Shaqab

The ladies vaulting went to Simone Jäiser from Switzerland. She achieved a score of 8.123, overtaking the second placed Kristina Boe from Germany by 0.3 points. Simone Jäiser as well as Erik Oese have again accepted the invitation. Both will come to CHI Al Shaqab 2015 to show their newest routines, updated for the World Equestrian Games.

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