A flight map.

Tiptoeing past Baghdad shhh.

Having survived 36 hours of travelling on every possible means of conveyance with no sleep (I envy people on the plane who just fall into a stupor the minute it takes off and don’t wake up again until it lands thanks to genes or Ambien), I arrived at the spectacular Rixos Gulf Doha to be told they had upgraded me to a suite “if that was all right with me.” Um, hell yeah! It is a massive apartment with two balconies, two TVs, two bathrooms, washer/dryer, dishwasher, kick-ass espresso machine and 300 lights that I can’t figure how to work. There are 6 restaurants (and bars!) at this resort on the Persian Gulf, including one poolside. Someone who shall remain nameless suggested that I spend my days lounging by the pool, watching the livestream and writing reports as I work on my tan … it’s so tempting…

I love wandering all over the Al Shaqab facility, including between the multiple competition and warm-up arenas and taking the stairs up and down the many levels of the main building just for the exercise. I had a helpful 20-something security fellow tell me today that I was too old to be taking the stairs and should be taking the elevator instead. Say what ?

The show jumping action at CHI Al Shaqab presented by Longines got underway under sunny skies on Thursday, Feb. 23, with a record 189 riders from 37 countries entered this week (no Canadians, unfortunately). The day’s 5* feature was a 1.50 m Table A over Italian course designer Uliano Vezzani’s big track. The class offered a healthy purse of €105.500and attracted a field of 41 including Germany’s Marcus Ehning and the talented Stargold, winners of the Grand Prix here last year. But they had to settle for 6th place today, as it was Ireland’s Richard Howley and the grey Zangersheide gelding Zodiak du Buisson Z who prevailed, with Simon Delestre (FRA) second riding Dexter Fontenis Z and Howley’s fellow countryman Mark Mcauley third aboard Grs Lady Amaro.

This was Howley’s first trip to Doha, and he was impressed with the prize money, the jumps, footing, rings, and the sheer amount of space available for riding and training. “Everything is phenomenal.” he said. “My horses are in fantastic form. Please God they continue in that way. For the next two weeks we have some big classes and some good sport ahead of us.” He plans to ride Consulent de Prelet Z in Saturday’s grand prix. “He’s in great form; he jumped a double clear for for Team Ireland ten days ago in Abu Dhabi. So we’re rolling our sleeves up for Saturday.”

Interestingly. Howley shares a last name – but no relationship – with a number of other show jumping Howleys in Ireland. He explained,  “They’re very close friends and live very close to us, but are no relation. It’s quite strange. They’re good riders and they’re all doing well, so it’s nice that from a small county in the west of Ireland there’s a few of us representing quite well!”

Full results here.

Livestream available at ClipMyHorse.tv here.

Keto update

Such dramatic oysters – but they’re Keto and delicious! (the rocks and shells are also very low-calorie but a bit hard to digest).



A table of pastries.

Not Keto. *sad face*


Random Observations

Prayer room and toilet sign.

Something every nerve-wracking warm-up ring everywhere should have.