Scott Brash flew the British flag in Doha tonight (Saturday, 4 March), producing three masterful clear rounds to claim grand prix glory aboard Ursula XII under the floodlights of Al Shaqab.
At 16, the impressively scopey mare, who is owned by Lady Kirkham and Lady Harris, proved she still has an abundance of zest for the job, jumping with ease and relishing the big sand arena.
“She’s a very special horse and one for these three-round competitions — the bigger and more difficult, the better for her,” said Scott, of the mare who had two years away from the sport due to injury.
“It is very difficult going first in a jump-off but I knew I had to be clear to put the pressure on the rest. However, I did come out of the ring knowing I wasn’t ultra fast.
“Al Shaqab has always been a lucky venue for me. I think the facilities here are some of the best in the world — the footing, the arena and the stables are fantastic,” he added.
After the initial round — that produced 11 jumping clears — the field of 41 starters was whittled down to the top 18, including some four faulters, for round two over a fresh 1.60m track designed by Frank Rothenberger.
Although the course-designer described this round as “maybe a little small”, it certainly did its duty to test the riders with Scott and the talented daughter of Ahorn just one of four combinations through to the finale.
Having lost out the day before (Friday, 3 March), picking up one frustrating time-penalty in the CSI5* 1.55m which prevented the duo from going through to the jump-off, Scott — ever the perfectionist — was not going to let this one fall by the wayside.
First to go in the jump-off, the Scotsman opted for clarity over speed and ultimately put the pressure on his rivals.
When both Germany’s Christian Ahlmann and Spanish rider Pilar Lucrecia Cordon rolled a pole it was left to Turkey’s Omer Karaevli to challenge Scott for the €165,000 prize-pot.
Partnering the 12-year-old Roso Au Crosnier, the Turkish rider finished a very respectable runner-up, producing a clear round and just 0.77 of a second slower than the winner.
Read the full report from Doha CSI5* in next week’s issue of Horse & Hound — on sale Thursday, 9 March.