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Posted by Sue Cunningham on 19/03/2015.
Al Shaqab CPEDI3*

INSIGHT - Al Shaqab CPEDI3*

FEI 4* Para-Equestrian Dressage Judge Sue Cunningham recently officiataed at the Al Shaqab CPEDI3* held in Doha, Qatar. The event was held in conjunction with the CDI5* dressage and CSI5* show jumping events from 4-8 March.

Sue Cunningham has provided us with an insight into her time officiating at this event...

"For the first time since this event started two years ago, a Para-Equestrian CPEDI3* competition was also included.  Riders from 10 countries participated in the event.  The Netherlands were the strongest team with seven riders as someone had attended the dressage the previous year and told the riders that this was an opportunity was not to be missed.  The prize money for all of the competitions was extremely generous, unmatched by anything offered anywhere in the world in our discipline.

The judges were Hanneke Gerritsen from Holland, Dr Jan Holger Holtschmit from Germany and myself.  The Stewards were from Germany and Sweden and the Classifiers from Norway and the UK. The field of riders was very strong and were much improved from the last time I had seen them in July, 2014 in Germany.  To give you some idea of our marks in the Freestyle Grade 1a, the winner Elke Philipp from Germany scored 77.833, Grade 1b, Rix Van der Horst from Holland scored 74.833, Sanne Voets from Holland scored 76.417 and Frank Hosmar in Grade IV from Germany scored 77.750.  In the Show Jumping our own Aussie Edwina Alexander Tops was crowned the winner.

The horses and riders were flown into Doha from all over Europe.  Their stabling was airconditioned with generous stables and for once, a massive walkway between the stables allowing wheel chairs to safely get around.   The Ritz Carlton was the hotel chosen for all of the riders and the officials to stay and the grooms stayed in a purpose built hotel, a very short walk to the stables. 

While we were they we were given an opportunity to survey the grounds which include a riding school with air conditioned arena, restaurant and education facilities.  Not far from that is the Stallion breeding facilities.  Al Shaqab owns the current world champion Arabian stallion and has done so for the last five years.  Due to quarantine restrictions we were not allowed to see the stallions but we did see the suite of stables for the visiting mares, the mare and foal stables, the two swimming pools, the horse spa, the ray lamps and the many horse walkers in sparkling clean, airconditioned places.  The surface on which the horses walk at any time in any direction is specifically designed to absorb any pressure and the Tranquility Garden soothes even the most anxious owner and mare!!

The inclusion of PE at this event was very successful and the organisers are delighted to increase the numbers and include it again in 2016.  This is a truly world class event in the most futuristic and ambitious venue anywhere in the world. 

It's one of those items you may have on your “bucket list” to be involved in a grand event and I was quite proud to be there representing Australia and more than a little amazed at the scale of it.  All riders were interviewed after their test and without fail they all want to come back next year and so do we.

If you are an EA Official who has officiated overseas and would like to contribute to the Insight Series please Contact Us.

Indoor arena of the Al Shaqab CPEDI3*

 Above: Indoor arena of the Al Shaqab Equestrian Event where the Para-Equestrian was staged.

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