(MENAFN- Gulf Times) The fifth edition of the Qatar Equestrian Tour Longines Hathab will get underway on Friday at the Qatar Equestrian Federation. The first leg will commence with the Small Tour showjumping event at 3pm, followed by the Medium Tour action from 5pm onwards. On Saturday, the Future Riders, Open Class, and Big Tour competitions will be held from 9am, 3pm and 5.30pm onwards respectively.
For the first time since the launch of Hathab in 2015, the annual event will see two extra rounds. The Tour, organised and hosted jointly by Qatar Equestrian Federation and Al Shaqab, will be held over 14 legs this time.
Hathab, meaning“canter” in Arabic, is an initiative of HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani, President of the Qatar Olympic Committee. It aims to improve the standard of horse riding among Qatari youth, while encouraging the involvement of private stables and individual horse owners to spread awareness of horsemanship as part of Qatar's history and tradition.
Omar al-Mannai, Vice-Chairman, Organising Committee Longines Hathab, welcomed the new season and hoped for more competitive action through the season.“Hathab has helped our riders gain in stature besides several riders from GCC countries seeking to participate. Some will be seen participating by the middle of the season. This will add more challenge and spice up the competition even more,” he said.
Event Director Ali al-Rumaihi expects fierce competition with the addition of two more rounds to the season.“More riders with more horses are keen to perform in Hathab and with the next Asian Games coming up in 2022, this is a great opportunity for them to improve and sharpen their skills,” opined al-Rumaihi.
Riders are already excited with extension of the competition length of Hathab and more than eager to take the field.“We have two additional rounds from this season and so competing will be tougher than it has been, said Nasser al-Ghazali, the defending Big Tour champion.
“Hathab has been highly competitive and both the horses and riders have improved consistently and hence this season will be more challenging. As far as I am concerned, I am excited about the new season and confident of doing well,” he added.
Al-Ghazali, who beat Saeed Nasser al-Qadi and Hamad Nasser al-Qadi last season, has been highly successful on his stride Quel Homme.“He will be my main horse this time too, besides What A Pleasure and Hurry Up,” he said.
Also awaiting the action is Cyrine Cherif, who became the first woman rider to clinch a Hathab crown claiming the Medium Tour last season. Frenchwoman Cherif has been rapidly improving and growing in stature. She beat, Khalifa al-Baker and Rashid Towain al-Marri to the post the last season and is keen to carry on with her good show.“I'm focused on doing well in each round,” she said.
Cherif was also part of the camp held in Europe and will make use of that experience to enhance her showjumping skills and performances.
Khalifa Abdullah al-Khaldi, who stood tall winning the Small Tour in 2019-20 season will now be riding in the Medium Tour and aiming to excel in the higher category as well.
Longines Hathab will mark the start of a long equestrian season in Qatar leading to a number of high-profile championships will be staged throughout the season. The FEI World Dressage Challenge will be held on 21 February 2021 when the QEFMP will host the elite dressage riders.
Another important landmark in the season will be the Commercial Bank CHI Al Shaqab Presented by Longines, which will involve show jumping, dressage and para dressage between February 24-26.
February will round off with the HH The Amir Sword Show Jumping Championships, which is organised by QEFMP in partnership with QF's Al Shaqab and coincides with the HH The Amir Sword Festival, which is organised by the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club (QREC).
Early March will be the time for the Longines Global Champions Tour, which is one of the most successful and thrilling showjumping championships. It will be organised at Longines arena of Al Shaqab in March (4 to 6).
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