Doha: Harrie Smolders was officially crowned the 2017 Longines Global Champions Tour champion but the evening also belonged to local hero Bassem Hassan Mohammed who delivered an emotional home victory at the spectacular Al Shaqab arena in Qatar.
Bassem, riding Gunder, demonstrated nerves of steel in the nine-strong jump off and swept home clear to win the final LGCT Grand Prix of the season - a full two seconds ahead of Janika Sprunger (SUI) on Bacardi VDL and Peder Fredricson (SWE) on H&M Christian K.
“Today we made it,” said Bassem. “It’s been really hard work, I’d like to thank my whole team and my horse, I’m so happy, so proud. It feels very special to make this crowd happy.”
Dutchman Smolders and his superstar ride Don VHP clocked up four faults in the LGCT Grand Prix, but his supreme performance all season, against the best of the best in show jumping, had already ensured he was 2017 Champions of Champions.
Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, together with children from the Al Shaqab Riding Academy, presented both the coveted LGCT Championship trophy to Harrie Smoldes and also the winning medal to Qatari rider Bassem Hassan Mohammed. His Excellency Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Al Thani was also in attendance along with diplomats from around the world. At one point Her Highness scooped up Bassem’s delighted daughter to the joy of the crowd.
Delighted Smolders, who also won the 2017 Global Champions League as part of team Hamburg Diamonds, said: “After such a long season, I’m very thankful to do the double here. It’s very special, it will not be easy to match this season again in my career. Every time at the right moment I delivered and I must enjoy it right now.”