The focus at the CHI Al Shaqab in Doha, QAT, switched from vaulting to jumping on March 4th, with four back-to-back CSI3* and 5* classes. An international field of 40 tackled Frank Rothenberger’s big but uncomplicated track in the opening two-phase 5* class. Great Britain’s Laura Renwick went early in the order and logged a blazing time of 36.76. She and Rembrandt Blue remained the ones to beat until Simon Delestre of France, fourth-to-last in the lineup, shaved .07 seconds off her time aboard Stardust Quinhon, a nine-year-old selle Francais mare. Denis Lynch (IRL) and Hi GoVan de Padenborre finished third.
Delestre, a member of the 2014 silver medal team at the World Equestrian Games, was pleased with the mare’s opening-day performance. “She’s an easy, fast mare. I don’t take crazy risks, but she won the class and that was perfect.” The pair placed third in a grand prix here in November of 2014. “It’s now a few times I’ve come here ‒ it’s a fantastic place.”
The second major class of the day, a 1.50m worth 92,000€, was initially led by another top female rider, Luciana Diniz of Portugal, who set the pace of 59.02 third out of the gate. She remained unchallenged until Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and Egano Van Het Slogenhof clocked a 57.43. Moroccan rider Abdelkebir Ouaddar had the most entertaining run aboard his WEG mount, Quickly de Kreisker, who spent a good part of the round buckily heartily. They would have been in the money save for a rail towards the end of the course. It was up to the final rider of the 42 entries to decide the class, and Germany`s Daniel Deusser did just that, in classic style in 56.67 seconds aboard Espyrante.
The 11-year-old BWP mare was foot-perfect and fluid throughout. “She’s very, very fast. Even if she does the same amount of strides as other horses, she is always faster because of her rhythm and her very active stride,” said Deusser. “She was really thinking forward and knew what to do.”
Show jumping continues all week, culminating in the 500,000€ Grand Prix on Saturday. Go to www.chialshaqab.com for results and live streaming.