Daniel Deusser kicked off his campaign for the 2020 Longines Global Champions Tour title with a stunning win in Doha against the cream of show jumping.
The Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Doha thrilled spectators on Saturday, March 7 in a spectacular showdown with on-form German champion Deusser taking top honors at the first event of the season. Delighted Deusser also clinched the first golden ticket to the LGCT Super Grand Prix at the GC Prague Playoffs.
Speaking just after his win, Daniel said, “I am still a little bit speechless to be honest. [My horse, Killer Queen VDM] is still quite young at 10 years old and I think she has just shown everyone that she is one of the best horses in the world right now. Everyone’s goal is to qualify for the Super Grand Prix at Prague so it takes a lot of pressure off me now.
“I am very happy I did it now at the start of the season and I am already looking forward to Prague. I think everyone who rides on the Longines Global Champions Tour, their aim is to qualify for the Super Grand Prix. Even though I have won the first ticket now, it doesn’t mean I don’t still want to win the rest of the season.”
The dazzling event at the Longines Arena at Al Shaqab has become a major sporting and social fixture in Doha, growing in popularity each year. Members of the Royal Family of Qatar attended the event. His Highness The Father Emir, Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser and His Excellency Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani arrived at the magnificent venue to the delight of the large crowd.
Later, HH Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser and HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani joined the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix prize-giving ceremony and witnessed a spectacular sound and light show which thrilled spectators in the grandstands and chic ringside cafes.
Jan Tops, Founder and President of LGCT and GCL, said, “It’s an amazing place here, this is our 12th year here, and you can see the tradition that we have built. Local people follow it, it’s fantastic to see for the organization and it’s a great group of people who are working on it. The sport, everything, is just fantastic.”
Grand Prix Event Rundown:
First to go in the LGCT Grand Prix of Doha was Bart Bles (NED) and Israel v.d. Dennehoeve, and despite their best efforts the pair finished with 13 faults. Following them into the arena was Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) with Identity Vitseroel, but they also couldn’t keep the fences up and brought 9 faults home.
It was not to be for Eduardo Álvarez Aznar (ESP) and Seringat, and despite a good qualifying round the pair were unable to complete the course, retiring to save their chances for another day.
The clears proved hard to come by, as fences fell all around the course. Jos Verlooy (BEL) rattled rails through the triple combination, and despite jumping a clear round, he picked up one time fault, keeping him out of the jump off. The first clear would come from Max Kühner (AUT) and Elektric Blue P, and the crowd went wild as they crossed the finish line.
Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Senator were flying around the course until an unlucky pole at the double, and they finished on 4 faults. Following him into the ring was Titouan Schumacher (FRA) and Atome Z, who sailed around the course to finish on a clean sheet and join Max Kühner in the jump-off. The run of good luck continued, as Marcus Ehning (GER) piloted his popular chestnut stallion Funky Fred to another clear round and a place in the jump-off.
It took until Niels Bruynseels (BEL) with Delux van T&L entered the ring to secure the next ticket to the jump-off, the pair pulling off a brilliant and economical clear round to finish with just over a second to spare. Despite his success in the GCL team competition, Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) was not able to replicate his clear round, and brought home 4 faults.
Jérôme Guéry (BEL) started his round carefully with Quel Homme de Hus, but picked up the pace later on in his round, taking the double on an angle. His risk paid off, and he secured the fifth clear round, finishing just inside the time allowed.
As Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) entered the ring under the spectacular lights of the Longines Arena at Al Shaqab, the crowd was on the edge of their seats, and he delivered with Katanga v.h. Dingeshof once again to clinch the sixth clear round and ticket to the jump-off.
Daniel Deusser (GER) again showed his formidable form, booking his place in the jump off after securing a clear with Killer Queen VDM and setting up a star-studded climax to the LGCT Grand Prix of Doha.
The Jump Off:
Max Kühner was first to go in the testing jump off course. As he set out on the course at a fast pace, the Exxon Mobil upright fell. Max took all the inside turns and was flat out to the final fence to jump it on an angle. He had lots of gas left in the tank at the end, but finished on 4 faults in time of 44.52s.
Next into the ring was Titouan Schumacher and Atome Z. The horse took a good look at the wall. He fell foul at the same fence as Max, after slicing into the penultimate fence, and the final fence came crashing down as Atome got too flat. The pair finished on 8 faults in a time of 42.98s.
Marcus Ehning came into the arena in determined fashion with Funky Fred, taking a flyer to the first. He added a stride to the Exxon Mobil upright but the first part of the Longines double came down as Funky Fred failed to pick up his front legs. He took the lead at this stage but ultimately finished in 4th place with 4 faults in 42.79s.
Niels Bruynseels set off at a good flowing pace, slightly slower than his earlier rivals, with Delux van T&L, and looked like he could be in with a chance of posting the first double clear. Taking a turn to the penultimate fence, they hit the back rail and it came down, as Niels galloped to the last, finishing on 4 faults in 44.31s.
Jérôme Guéry and Quel Homme de Hus had a fantastic round and flew round the jump off course. Starting off at a careful pace to ensure a clear round, they cleared each fence with ease, and galloped to the last, taking over the lead in an impressive 46.27s.
He was followed by fellow Belgian Nicola Philippaerts and his feisty mare Katanga v.h Dingeshof. The formidable combination were super quick and almost two seconds ahead of Guery at mid point. An efficient passage through the double combination helped Philippaerts edge ahead stopping the clock at 44.08s and taking over the lead.
The unstoppable force of Daniel Deusser was the last rider to go to challenge for the win. Deusser and Killer Queen VDM flew out of the starting blocks, making the 1.60m course look like child’s play. A great stride at the Longines double combination propelled him closer to victory. The gallop to the finish line was dramatic as Deusser claimed the first LGCT Grand Prix win of 2020 in a blistering 42.54s.
Deusser’s emphatic first place finish ensured he took the top spot of the LGCT ranking after the opening event of the season. He secured the first qualifying place in the LGCT Super Grand Prix at the GC Prague Playoffs in November.