Doha, Qatar – March 5, 2016 – The stage was set: a true championship course of two rounds and a jump-off with fences measuring around 1 metre 60, built by world- class course designer Frank Rothenberger; 43 combinations from 18 nations; and a prize fund of 500,000 Euros – the most valuable in the world.
The crème de la crème of global jumping, it could only deliver a thrilling finale to four days of great sport at CSI5* Chi Al Shaqab 2016. And it did not disappoint.
Ludgar Beerbaum, the man they call ‘The Grey Wolf,’ wrote another riveting chapter in Chi Al Shaqab’s rich history by claiming the Grand Prix, and with it the 165,000 Euro first prize. Three testing rounds of jumping ultimately diminished the field to produce a German one-two-three on the podium, with Daniel Deusser and Christian Ahlmann taking second and third.
The Grand Prix was a test of extreme endurance, speed and athleticism; with 16 jumping efforts over 13 numbered fences and the riders and horses traveling a distance of more than 100 metres in under 84 seconds. The time of 400 metres per minute required riders to keep pedal to the metal while keeping the fences up.
By the end of round one the field of 41 riders had been reduced to 18, and they faced off in a second round test of nerve over 11 numbered fences with 13 jumping efforts. Riders could not relax until they cleared the last fence, with problems evenly spaced around the course.Ludger Beerbaum with Chiara. © CHI Al Shaqab/Frank Sorge
Once round two was over, only five riders had survived by producing two clear rounds. They proceeded to a jump-off that provided a spectacular finale to the thrilling Grand Prix, as only two competitors — Beerbaum and Deusser — cleared the course without fault.
Beerbaum, who has been competing internationally since 1984, was quickest. The German rider had planned to retire after the London Olympics, and those assembled at Al Shaqab will be grateful for his change of mind as he rode peerlessly to victory.
The 52 year old has won two team Olympic golds and one individual gold, but his aim is to secure one more, and the Rio Olympics is firmly on his agenda. If he can hold his nerve in Brazil as he has done in Qatar, he could yet engineer a golden end to a stellar career.
CSI5* Chi Al Shaqab 2016 Top 15 Finishers
View complete results here.