Doha, 25 February 2022 - With attendance of President of the Qatar Olympic Committee and Chairman of Al Shaqab H.E. Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani, the ninth edition of Commercial Bank CHI Al SHAQAB Presented by Longines got underway.
World No. 1 Peder Fredricson threw down the gauntlet to his rivals ahead of a busy weekend as the Swede clinched the feature class on day one of the event.
Under the lights at the Longines Arena at Al Shaqab on Thursday, the 50-year-old was in a different class as he partnered with his powerful 14-year-old bay Hansson WL to an effortless victory in the CSI5* 1.55m class. The pair clocked a winning time of 64.83 seconds, to finish a second ahead of Christian Ahlmann of Germany.
Ahlmann, astride Solid Gold Z, led for the most part before Fredricson stole it at the end. Henrik Von Eckermann completed the podium with his little speed demon Glamour Girl in a time of 65.96 seconds.
Fredricson, who has a team gold medal from Tokyo Olympics to go with three silver medals from different Games – was the last to stride out and the Swede knew exactly what he had to do.
“I knew I needed to take short turns without losing control to beat Christian’s time. It is an amazing horse. I like to start last, because it gives you an advantage. I had watched Christian, so I knew exactly what to do,” said Fredricson. “The course was difficult, especially the sixth hurdle was tricky. The facilities are great at Al Shaqab and it’s always a pleasure to jump here,” he added.
Fredricson will now turn his attention to weekend’s Grand Prix, where he will start as a heavy favourite.
Earlier, the first big class of the championship was a thrilling affair, with Ireland’s Denis Lynch topping the CSI5* 1.45m class with his grey stallion Cornets Iberio. The pair finished the second phase with the fastest time of 32.09 seconds. Norway’s Geir Gulliksen (gelding VDL Groep Quatro) and Frenchman Simon Delestre (Dexter Fontenis Z) clocked identical times of 32. 96 seconds to share second spot.
Meanwhile, Qatar's dressage rider Wejdan Majed al-Malki is all excited to make her debut in the Dressage CDI 5* Grand Prix Test event at Commercial Bank CHI Al Shaqab Presented by Longines 2022 today in a world-class field aiming to stay on course for qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The 44-year-old Al Malki, will make history as being the first Qatari woman dressage rider to compete in a five-star event. Highly experienced having competed in the 2006 Doha Asian Games, she is keen to give off her best in front of the Qatari fans who will be present to encourage and support her in this global event.
Al-Malki has been training in Spain and in Britain and has participated in three star events. Speaking about her participation, al-Malki said, "I am excited and at the same time a bit nervous. But, still it will be a proud day for me to compete against world class riders. My aim is to qualify for the 2024 Olympics Games in Paris and this experience will help me achieve that goal. I also want to participate at the FEI (International Federation for Equestrian Sports) World Cup events. These tournaments will be an important step in my career."