ian O’Connor & Callisto Ph. LGCT/Stefano Grasso
Ireland’s Cian O’Connor and Callisto rode to victory in the CSI5* 1.45m speed class in Qatar on Friday, November 4th, in a two horse race which saw home hero Bassem Hassan Mohammed miss out on the win by just tenths of a second.
At the state-of-the-art AL SHAQAB, Friday evening’s action was the perfect prelude to Saturday’s Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Doha, with the world’s best horses and riders in action ahead of the 2016 season final.
Course designer Uliano Vezzani set a tough track for the 35 starters for the 1.45m speed class, offering up a prize purse of €25,000. Faults came from multiple areas on course, seeing many top pairs fail to finish their round with a clean score card but it was Germany’s Andreas Kreuzer who was the first to set the pace with the 9-year-old Calvilot (Calvaro Z x Quilot) with a clear in 73.43 seconds.
Qatar’s own Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani entered the arena looking set for a home turf win after a blinding round with the grey stallion Imperio Egipcio Milton (Dollar du Murier x Capitol I) rocketed him to the lead with a time of 69.71 seconds-a full two seconds ahead of the rest of the field.
Others tried, and failed to surpass the top Qatari rider’s time, until Ireland’s Cian O’Connor and Callisto (Quasimodo Z x Jokinal de Bornival) put in a time of 63.11 seconds.
Young US talent Emily Moffitt looked to be the only challenger to come close, making daring turns with Cassius Clay (Carolus x Burggraaf), shaving valuable seconds off the clock, crossing the timers in 65.11 seconds. World No. 1 Christian Ahlmann took to the course with Caribis Z (Caritano x Canabis Z) but would finish over two seconds behind the young American, in 68.60 seconds. Bassem Hassan Mohammed also looked like he might overtake the lead but finished just shy of O’Connor’s time in 63.28 seconds to take 2nd place.
Great Britain’s Michael Whitaker rounded out the top six with Olympic mount Cassionato (San Patrignano Cassini x Quidam du Revel) while Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts with H&M Forever d’Arco ter Linden (Darco x Tenor Manciais) finished in 7th.
The final CSI5* class of the LGCT weekend will kick off Saturday, November 5th at 2:00pm local time, before the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Doha takes center stage at 5:15pm. The final round of competition in the 2016 season will see the title decided, as Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and Edwina Tops-Alexander battle it out for top honors in Qatar.
For the full broadcast schedule of LGCT Doha, please click here.
Full class results at this link.