Edwina Tops-Alexander set the 2012 Global Champions Tour alight in Doha winning the opening leg on her show jumping superstar Cevo Itot du Chateau. In a dramatic climax to the first Grand Prix of the new season, the reigning 2011 GCT champion beat off her rivals in a high powered seven-strong jump off. Edwina was first to go in the jump off and admitted she did not believe her time of 40.99 was fast enough to win.
The crucial first Grand Prix of the year marks the start of a very intensive road this year for riders and horses and, for many, it will include the London Olympics this summer. Over 80 horses were flown to Doha, Qatar, for the event which is a key indication of form for the season ahead and is seen as serious preparation for the months ahead.
It was a story of split second timing in the Grand Prix jump off as second place Marco Kutscher of Germany, third place Pius Schwizer and fourth place Billy Twomey all finished within a hair’s breadth of each other on 41.24, 41.32 and 41.44 respectively.
Edwina, the world’s No1 female rider and already GCT’s first euro millionaire, spoke of her delight at winning the €148,500 prize money out of a total of €450,000. Speaking at the post-event press conference she said: “Itot is in great shape. It is his first outdoor show this year. He is 16 years old but he feels fresh and I have had a wonderful show.
“Titus and all my horses have really been super,” said Australian rider Edwina. “Going first in the jump off is definitely difficult. I came out of the ring and said to Jan ‘I don’t think I am fast enough’. But the horse jumped amazingly and as a rider you are only as good as the horse you are sitting on and he was good.” Edwina also praised Italian course designer Uliano Vezzani as “one of the best in the world” and said his courses had delivered top level competition in Doha.
Runner up Marco Kutscher of Germany, who was riding Cornet Obolensky, said: “It was a good jump off and I am really pleased with second place and I am happy my horse is in good form.” Third place rider Pius Schwizer, who was second in Doha in 2011, praised his horse Verdi III and predicted he has a great future.
GCT President Jan Tops summed up the jump off and the three days of show jumping in Doha as “absolutely top sport”. Jan said: “The jump off results are amazing, half a second between 1 and 4. This is absolutely top sport, great precision, deft riding.”
A field of 44 riders started out in the Grand Prix of Doha with 16 jumping clear in the first round. A further seven jumped double clears including GCT 2010 winner Marcus Ehning, Christian Ahlmann and Maikel van der Vleuten setting the scene for a true nail biting jump off between some of the giants of the sport today. The victorious riders were cheered by a passionate crowd as they took a lap of honour under floodlights at the immaculate large sand arena at the Qatar Equestrian Federation’s Al Rayyan last night.
Longines is GCT timekeeping partner for Doha and three other events this year. At the press conference Charles Villoz, vice president sales for Longines, said the global brand’s long history of involvement in equestrian sport made for a fitting partnership with GCT. Mr Villoz said: “We are very glad and very honoured that we are now working with GCT and Doha was a very nice experience. We have this passion. Horse sport for us is very important.”
Source: Global Champions Tour press release.
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