Asian Games: Qatar takes eventing lead

December 8, 2006

Consistent training in France and reliable, experienced horses have taken the Qatari team from rank outsiders into the lead on their first Asian Games outing in eventing at Doha 2006. The Qatar team now has 157 points, adding only 1.3 penalties to the dressage result.

Abdulla Ali Abdulla Mohammed Al Ejail of Qatar rides on into a silver medal position with one day left in the three-day event.
All four Qatari riders cleared the fences without any problems and two riders stayed within the optimum time, leaving Rashid Faraj Alathba Al Marri and Abdulla Ali Abdulla Mohammed Al Ejail to finish on the dressage score they had accumulated on 6 December. Al EJail is now ranked second individually before going into the third and final phase of the competition, which is jumping a course in the arena at Doha Racing and Equestrian Club on 8 December.

"[My performance] was as expected," said Al Ejail. "We were really prepared. My horse loves this weather. He's used to it. My horse will be tired after today's performance. We will require more tactics for tomorrow."

The competition at Sport City was interrupted after South Korean rider Kim Hyung Chil suffered a fatal accident at the eighth fence - called the sheep fold - and was crushed under his mount Bundaberg Black.

Kim, 47, had a rotational fall and died from multiple skull fractures and severe bleeding. Bundaberg Black broke her hind legs in the accident and had to be euthanised.

Kim, who left a wife and two children, had won the Individual silver medal at the 14th Asian Games held in Busan (KOR) in 2002.

The Korean team withdrew from the competition.

Japan dropped to second place after three riders missed the optimum time and defending bronze medallist Daisuke Kato suffered stops at the second water. Only UK-based Yoshiagi Oiwa of Japan showed a clear and controlled ride following instructions from his trainer, multiple Olympic champion Andrew Hoy from Australia. He kept his individual lead with Khanjer Black with 40.50 points and can afford to down one fence in the show jumping.

Indonesia managed to maintain third place in the team ranking, when their last rider Andry Prasetyono and the experienced Aswatama Sportzgirl turned in a clear ride. Three other riders suffered time penalties and the Australian-trained team scored 189.20 points on their Asian Games debut.

India remained in fourth place on 212.90 points, but are more than four jumping mistakes behind Indonesia and need a lot of help from other riders to reach the podium. Malaysian Malek Jeremiah Husref finished well within his time on grey gelding Dashper and climbed to third place in the individual category.

Malek Jeremiah Husref of Malaysia said his team had a strategy, "At first, looking at the ground, I had doubts about the optimum time. But we had set up limit markers, and at the last fence I still had 15 seconds to spare. If I do the right thing, we hopefully finish on a medal. It is important to get a medal because other people believe in us."

The course was considered to be technical, but well within the rules of a one-star competition such as the Asian Games. Heavy rainfall marred the first eventing competition held in the Gulf region, but most riders and their coaches agreed the conditions were not irregular. "Eventers do it in every weather," read a car sticker distributed among fans of this most versatile discipline in equestrian sport.