SA equestrian Olympian Philippa Johnson in action against top riders in Qatar
Doha – South Africa’s first equestrian Olympic gold medallist, Philippa Johnson, will again this week line up against some of the world’s top riders when she competes in the para dressage event at the showstopper Longines Arena at Qatar’s Al Shaqab.
Johnson is one of the elite riders invited to participate at the prestigious Commercial Bank CHI AL SHAQAB event, presented by Longines, and featuring a total of 88 riders from 23 countries.
The world-class international equestrian competition, which the Qatar Foundation’s Al Shaqab is organising and hosting for the seventh time, will see riders compete in the Olympic disciplines of showjumping, dressage, and para dressage.
The event takes place from 27-29 February and is one of Qatar’s showpiece events showcasing the Middle Eastern country as a top global sporting and events destination.
CHI (Concours Hippique International – International Equestrian Competition) is one of only five CHI competitions worldwide and the first and only equestrian event of its kind in the Middle East and Asia region.
In total, 130 horses from all around the world – including Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Spain, Austria and Switzerland – arrived in Doha this week on three separate flights. Among them is Belgium-based Johnson’s trusted Lord Louis, on which she will be looking to replicate the form that saw her win the para dressage gold medal at the Athens 2014 Paralympics.
German showjumper Daniel Deusser, currently third on the Longines global rankings, headlines the impressive list of entries at Al Shaqab this week.
Other jumpers competing include Sweden’s Peder Fredrickon, ranked number five, Belgium’s Pieter Devos, ranked number six and the winner of last year’s CSI5* Grand Prix in Doha, and Olympians Edwina Tops-Alexander (Australian) and Scott Brash (Great Britain).
Athina Onassis, the only surviving descendant of the famous Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, will also compete in the jumping event at Al Shaqab.
Since its establishment in 1992, Al Shaqab’s vision was to build on Qatar’s Arabian horse heritage and be a leading global center for equine professionals, while also encouraging the Qatari community to preserve this unique, traditional cultural sport.
Today, Al Shaqab’s impressive facilities, which are distinctively designed in the shape of a horseshoe, cover 980,000 square meters.
With a state-of-the-art Main Arena comprising both an indoor and outdoor venue capable of holding over 5000 spectators, Al Shaqab is part of Qatar’s growing reputation on the world stage that showcases its ability to host major international sports event at the highest level.