Doha, President of Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al-Thani crowned Saturday the winners of the first round of Longines Global Champions Tour, organized by Al Shaqab over the past three year.
A host of the world's best horsemen participated in the competition which has a prize money of 750,000 Euros.
Julien Epaillard and Usual Suspect Dauge triumphed in the first Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of 2019 with a masterful galloping victory in Doha. The French star was first into the five-strong jump off and punched the air in delight when he realised last man in Ben Maher and Explosion W had narrowly failed to beat him. Epaillard became the first qualifier for the prestigious LGCT Super Grand Prix at the GC Prague Playoffs later this year.
Thrilled by his victory Epaillard said: "It is crazy for me today. I had planned to ride a different horse. But I changed my plan I was so surprised to be clear in the first round. And I was first in the jump off. I was not thinking to win the GP but it was fantastic."
Spectacular aerial images showed the full scale of the dramatic show jumping stage in Doha looking across to the stunning City skyline as the worlds best riders and horses powered up for the LGCT Grand Prix with their eyes fixed firmly on the championship race.
In the Global Champions League, the Shanghai Swans soared to the lead in Doha, with a high octane competition at AL SHAQAB seeing many of the very best horse and rider combinations crumbling under pressure.
Experienced Swans duo of Daniel Deusser and Pius Schwizer kept cool heads in the Qatari heat, pulling out a flawless performance to deliver the only faultless score of the event, finishing ahead of Valkenswaard Uniteds pairing of Bertram Allen and Frank Schuttert, with New York Empires Scott Brash and Hans-Dieter Dreher taking third.
A delighted Daniel said "We have a very good team, but still in the end you have to get the job done! We had a strong day on Thursday, and two clear rounds today - I have a super partner with Pius, so were very happy."
Pius praised his teammates, both equine and human: "My horse jumped amazing, and in my mind Daniel is the best rider in the world at the moment, so thank you Daniel!"
Despite their early win, Daniel remained humble about the long season ahead, and the strength of the teams this season."I expected more teams on a double clear today, but it showed the course was tough. There were faults everywhere. Its a long season, but the first step is done so we hope to continue like this."
Commercial Manager of Al Shaqab and director of the competition Omar Khalid Al Mannai expressed his satisfaction with the special atmosphere of the first round. He said in the press conference today that they are delighted that the Longines Global Champions Tour has Doha as part of its round. He added that they always look to ensure the level of competition reflects the status of Qatar in general and Al Shaqab in particular. He added that he did not expect the participation of such a number of world champions, highlighting that it was something that entertained the fans.
He said that Al Shaqab is always thinking of ways to latch onto the high standard and performance of this event for the youth, as they have an international camp which is with the event. He added that it was also a cultural exchange between 14 countries and 21 riders. they started already and continue until the next event, in-between there will be clinics, and with some of the big names so they can give their experience to the younger generation.
He added that negotiations are still ongoing to host future rounds of Longines Global Champions Tour in the coming years. Al Mannai thanked everyone who contributed to the success of the tournament. He pointed out that they will continue to work in preparation for the Al Shaqab International Championship, which will kick off on Thursday and will last three days. He added that they will organize a press conference on Tuesday to announce the details.
Co-Founder GCL Jan Tops said that "It is a real art to get this result, our course builder Uliano Vezzani knows the facility and the riders. It was the right number today, Julian was knocking on the door all week - he always gives his maximum, and Im very pleased he will have the first ticket for the LGCT Super Grand Prix. Ben was so close - last year he won four LGCT Grand Prix so I think he will be there as well."
Source: Qatar Olympic Committee