Great Britain's Michael Whitaker and France's Michel Hecart won the two five star classes on the opening day at CHI Al Shaqab. Michael took the victory in the biggest class of the day – a 1.50 class against the clock – riding the 14 year old Belgian bred Amai (Nonstop x Bacara), leaving Luciana Diniz and Upper Star (Metall x Zeus) to second and Shane Breen on Confident of Victory (Cornet Obolensky x Damokles) to third. "Winning so early in the competition definitely gives you confidence. It's better than knocking three down," Michael joked after his win. Of riding in the heat of the Middle East, he added; "I'm sure that the heat helps the horses perform. They don't seem to get jet lag either".
In the 1.45 class Michel won aboard the 13 year old French bred stallion Nokia de Brekka (Quick Star x Apache d'Adriers). Second was Nicola Philippaerts on Casana (Carano x Cassini II), while Steve Guerdat and Sidney VIIII (Carry x Quidam de Revel) ended third. After his win Michel said; "I prefer to compete in the Middle East as I like to ride outdoors. I haven't ridden in Doha before though. AL SHAQAB is an incredible venue. I found riding the course easy as it's the first event of the week."
Source: Press release from CHI Al Shaqab.
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