Rolf-Goran Bengtsson produced a fairytale finish to the 2016 Longines Global Champions Tour in Doha, Qatar. On Saturday evening (5 November) in front of a buzzing crowd, the Swede took a resounding victory in the final grand prix of the season and was crowned champion of champions for 2016 by heading the overall points table.
“It was an evening you can dream of, but for it to come true you never think it is possible,” said Rolf, who secured the lion’s share of a one million euro bonus fund as title-holder, as well as nearly 150,000 euro for his grand prix win.
His closest rival in the overall standings, Edwina Tops-Alexander of Australia, finished in the runner-up spot after clocking a surprise eight faults in the opening round of the grand prix, with Germay’s Christian Ahlmann finishing third on the podium.
“I made it easy for you!” said Edwina.
With this coveted accolade in the bag, Rolf and the imposing 17-year-old Caretino stallion Casall ASK went on to jump a double clear before outsmarting six riders in a tactical jump-off to clinch grand prix victory from final draw.
“Casall still loves the job – he’s so competitive in every ring,” said Rolf. “He makes everything possible.”
German riders Daniel Deusser (First Class Van Eeckelghem) and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Fibonacci) took second and third respectively in this final grand prix of the 2016 season.
We bid farewell to a strong British and Irish contingent in round one, none of whom finished in the top 18. Michael Whitaker felt Cassionato simply wasn’t firing in the Qatar heat and retired. John Whitaker, who enjoyed an otherwise hugely successful show, did well to stay in the saddle after meeting the final vertical on no stride at all with his grand prix ride Ornellaia and Scott Brash just missed the cut for round two, finishing on four faults with Hello M’Lady. Ireland’s Cian O’Connor (Good Luck), Denis Lynch (Campino 344) and Bertram Allen (Hector Van D’Abdijhoeve) all came away with a rail or two down.
Don’t miss the full report from the Longines Global Champions Tour in Doha in next week’s Horse & Hound, out Thursday 10 November.