LGCT President Tops says Qatar’s rapid growth in equestrian has been incredible
09 Nov 2017 - 0:03
By Rizwan Rehmat / The Peninsula
Qatar’s rapid growth in building a strong equestrian team in recent years has impressed Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) President Jan Tops who says young riders in the country must make the most of existing opportunities to excel at top events.
Last year, Qatar quartet Sheikh Ali bin Khalid Al Thani, Bassem Hassan Mohammed, Ali Al Rumaihi and Hamad Al Attiyah featured in the showjumping event at the Rio Olympics, marking the country’s equestrian Games debut with an impressive outing.
Two of the world’s popular 5 *events - the Longine Global Champions League leg held in November and the annually-staged CHI Al Shaqab in March - complement Qatar’s rise in equine sports, Tops said.
“There are countries who have more experience in the sport but Qatar have done well in such a short period of time. We had the Olympic trials three years ago. The Qatari riders (who featured in Games qualifiers) have done very well. They featured at the Olympic Games,” Tops said.
“The development in this sport in the last seven or eight years has been phenomenal. Qatar pushes the boundaries when it comes to developing equine sports. They work very hard to get their riders and horses to a high level. They have been in showjumping at the Rio Games and did very well,” Tops said.
“The Qatari riders represented the country well in Rio. If I see the progress made in the last three-four years or in the last four-five years, it has been incredible. I hope we can move forward in the same manner at the next Olympic Games,” Tops said.
The introduction of Hathab Series - designed to groom the next generation of Qatari riders - is a step in the right direction, according to Tops.
“Hathab Series is important. That’s the way it’s done. It is always important to have your top riders as a showcase for your country. At the same time, it is also important to get the new talent in,” Tops said yesterday.
“We are a small country in equestrian. Countries like France, America and Germany have more riders but we need to develop the next generation of riders. We need to give them experience and get them ready for the next eight years and have them competing and learning the right way,” he added.
Tops, who will see his wife Edwina Tops-Alexander compete at this week’s LGCT from November 9 to 11, said popular venue Al Shaqab continues to provide the platform needed to promote the sport.
“It’s a special place. It feels to be great here. They have been getting the support. Also, to be here at Al Shaqab is not only a magnificent place but it is a venue that is horse-friendly.
“You see the footing of the horses, the stabling ... everything is the best. It is an example for every event and we love to be here in Qatar,” he added.
“You see that through the years, the world’s best riders get ready for such events. Of course, the final leg is here. The best riders are again ready. Stats speak for themselves - the world’s top 8 out of the top-10 are here,” Tops said.