15 Nov 2017 - 0:51
Bassem leads star cast as Doha gets ready for QR1.7m event
By Rizwan Rehmat / The Peninsula
Qatar’s premier rider Bassem Mohammed, who won the Grand Prix of Doha during the final round of the LGCT on Saturday, will be looking to nail another title when he features at this week’s QNB Qatar International Show Jumping Championship.
The QR1.7m event has attracted riders from across Europe and most parts of Asia, organisers said yesterday.
The CSI4* tournament will be held at Qatar Equestrian Federation’s (QEF) Outdoor Arena from November 16-18, Event Director Ali Al Rumaihi informed.
“We have two top competitions coming up. The first one is the QNB Qatar International Championship this week. Next week, we will get together again for the Al Rayyan International Championship at QEF’s Outdoor Arena,” Al Rumaihi said.
“Yes, Bassem will be seen in action. In fact, some of the riders who featured at last week’s LGCT round have stayed back and will compete this week also,” Al Rumaihi said.
“Sheikh Ali bin Khalid Al Thani is also taking part in the two events.”
Bassem, 30, and Sheikh Ali along with Al Rumaihi were part of Qatar’s equestrian squad that featured at the Olympic Games in Rio last year.
Bader Al Darwish, Secretary General of QEF, said: “These two events are important dates on our national calendar. With Bassem leading the charge, we expect a big fight for the top prizes in all competitions.”
He added: “We are pleased to see the participation of home talent. The riders are getting the necessary experience as the compete against the top names. That’s the way to learn in professional sport.”
“The prize money at each of the two events is set at QR1.7m,” Omar Al Mannai, the Commercial Manager of Al Shaqab, informed at a press conference.
“We will have riders from Great Britain, Australia, Russia, Kuwait, Greece, Jordan, Pakistan etc. Asian and European riders will be competing along side our riders,” Al Mannai said.
Al Mannai said the participation of riders is guaranteed at the three-day event with not a single individual being impacted by the blockade of Qatar by neighbouring countries.
“The transportation of horses has been smooth. We have not faced any issues. Most of the riders and horses are getting a direct flight into Qatar and there is no negative impact,” Al Mannai said.
“With regards to regional participants, we have riders from Kuwait and Jordan,” he said.
Al Rumaihi said FEI rules are being applied at the two top events.
“There is no certain criteria for being here for riders. If you fulfil the FEI criteria you can feature in our events,” Al Rumaihi said.
“We have scheduled these events in such a way that riders can take part in all events held in the Arab region,” Al Rumaihi said.
“The riders start in Qatar and then they have 11 days between their next event in Saudi Arabia followed by another gap of 12 days before the riders reach the UAE.
“Some horses have to stay in quarantine for around 10 days and it is not possible for every rider to be at all the events. So the dates have been decided so that the schedule is fair to all riders,” Al Rumahi said.
Al Mannai said most of the riders who compete in popular home event - the Hathab Series - will also feature in the coming two events.
“There won’t be any Hathab Series rounds for next two weeks since the home riders will try their luck at QNB Qatar International Championship and the Al Rayyan International Champioship (November 23-25),” Al Mannai said.
“The Hathab Series will resume after these two rounds. It is fair for the horses also since they need rest. They can’t be forced to compete all the time without rest,” Al Rumaihi, the Event Director, informed.
Al Mannai said the stage is set for family activities at QEF’s Outdoor Arena.
“We have planned fun zones around the venue in a large scale. It will be just like what you saw during the LGCT round last week. Pony rides plus other fun for kids will be taken care of,” Al Mannai said. “We have collaboration with Al Bedaya as we look to boost the community engagement.
“There will be a raffle draw and fans - who can come into the venue for free - can take part in that also. QEF is organising the raffle draw,” Al Mannai said. “The prizes will be announced today or tomorrow. The two events will be broadcast on Al Kass Sports Channel,” he added.