I paid my first visit to Al Shaqab in Doha, Qatar, last week and what a fantastic show it is — as riders we couldn’t ask for better facilities. The arena is huge and the surface is perfect — that sand and fibre mix works very well. We can ride on the gallops as well as in the various rings, and the stables are fantastic — air conditioned and really big. It makes such a difference not having to worry about the horses staying in rickety, older stables.
I’d seen videos of the venue before I came here, and my father Michael Whitaker had told me about it, but it was still different to what I expected — the stadium is massively open. There’s not so much atmosphere in the arena here though; you have to remind yourself that you’re jumping for quite a lot of money!