As promised, I played a round at the Education City Golf Club this morning. They have three courses including an 18-hole championship course, but I just walked the par 3 nine-hole which was quite challenging itself, with hills and lakes and a lot of deep bunkers (because sand is a plentiful commodity here, after all; I was able to to closely inspect most of them thanks to some errant drives). It was fairly inexpensive and busy and people were taking lessons on the driving range and everyone seemed to be having a good time, which is what golf is all about (until it isn’t, fellow players will know what I mean).

A golf course.

You know you want to gallop across it, right? Lost one in the drink here.

I saw and heard some interesting birds on the course, including this funny little guy, the Hoopoe. And so many Laughing Doves… following me around and laughing and laughing.

A bird walking on the grass.

Cute little Hoopoe. (Wikimedia/CreativeCommons)

There seems to be a continuing trend here regarding my age – today my Uber driver, another smart-ass 20-something, said “get in the car, Grandmother.” I think he imagined he was being funny. And I am a grandma but I don’t need to be reminded of it daily, thank you Gen Z comedians. No tip for you! And another fellow at the venue informed me that I “look like you have been in this business for a long time.” Where’s the Botox?!

The big Friday class at CHI Al Shaqab presented by Longines was a €165,000 Table A, a large track set by Uliano Vezzani although with a very generous time allowed that resulted in a pretty crowded jumpoff. Those who advanced included Equine America Unick du Francport, ridden by the venerable Brit, John Whitaker, who at 68 is still storming around courses. Another of particular interest to me was Khaled Almobty (KSA) with Diana du Plevau Z, a young mare who is by Beth Underhill’s former ride, Dieu Merci Van T&L, who looks and jumps much like her sire.

Italian rider Emanuele Gaudiano with Chalou scored the win with a speedy performance in the jumpoff field of 18 – then came back for the presentation with a startling facial injury.

Gaudiano explained, “I fell off on the first oxer on the jump-off warmup. There was was a misunderstanding with my horse and I fell on the standard.” The result was a colourful lump near his left eye which was already morphing into what should be a spectacular shiner. “I think everything is fine, just a big swelling close to the eye. I see very good and I feel good.”

The 38-year-old Italian has been paired with this horse for quite a while now. The 15-year-old gelding by Chacco-Blue was his WEG horse in Tryon in 2018 and is extremely athletic in the air, eliciting a lot of ‘oooohs’ from the crowd. “I got him when he was five years old years and I know him very well,” said Gaudiano of his stickability. “It’s much easier for him in these big arenas. Of course in a small arena it is more difficult, but I know how to manage him.”

The plan is to use Chalou again in Saturday’s highlight grand prix – providing Gaudiano himself is sound enough to compete. “If I’m okay I will ride him!” he said, laughing.

Speaking of black eyes, a media colleague is sporting a pair of beauties, along with a significant gash to the forehead after a run-in with a stall door at home in Ireland. Seems to be a running theme this year.

And finally, a few things went sideways today, technology-wise – my image card became corrupt and I can’t download pics from my Canon EOS anymore; my laptop universal charger stopped working (this got sorted), and the second hand on my good watch (which has a brand new battery) started running backwards. Is that a sign of something nefarious? Time travel is real? The end of days is coming? Stay tuned…

Results here.

Watch the livestream on ClipMyHorse here.

Random Scenes:

Blurry image of Longines stadium at night.

The Longines stadium is especially beautiful at night. Not sure what happened here but I kinda like it.


A white rearing horse statue.

If only I could smuggle this home. Primo lawn ornament!


People in costume.

Entertainment for the kids.


Bread and rolls.

Soooo not Keto. One day soon, my darlings.