November 12, 2013--Nine out of the top 11 ranked riders on the Longines Global Champions Tour are in with a chance to be crowned 2013 Champion in what promises to be an end of season cliffhanger in Qatar.
The scramble for maximum points at the 12th and final leg of this year's series will be intense. Expect ruthless determination from riders at the top of the ranking who are still eligible for the most prestigious prize in show jumping.
After 11 events around the world the stage for the great climax of 2013 will be the unparalleled Al Shaqab equestrian centre in Doha. An extra ?1 million will be on offer for the overall championship on Saturday November 23 - with the champion winning a spectacular ?300,000 purse and the beautiful trophy.
Under the rules, a rider's best six results count towards his or her final championship score. Consistency is crucial as riders need to perform to an exceptional level all year on sand and grass, by day and by night and in big and small arenas. The extraordinary Al Shaqab arena will provide the final test of the season with master course designer Uliano Vezzani setting the challenge on Grand Prix day.
These are the riders who can still win the coveted Championship title:
Laura Kraut? 187 points (current ranking leader)
Christian Ahlmann? 185 points
Edwina Tops-Alexander? 181 points (Champion 2011 & 2012)
Luciana Diniz? 178 points
Rolf-Goran Bengtsson? 175 points
Scott Brash? 163 points
Alvaro de Miranda? 162 points
William Funnell? 159 points
Harrie Smolders? 150 points
Dutchman Harrie Smolders may be at No11 on the ranking board going into Doha, but if he wins the Grand Prix he can add 40 points to his tally making a total of 190 points. If the riders above him do not score big points then Smolders will be Champion. The same scenario applies to Scott Brash, Alvaro de Miranda and William Funnell. All currently have five scores counting and can add their Doha points to their final total.
But there is a different scenario for the top 5 riders who already have six scores on the board so far this season. This means that whatever points they win in Doha, their lowest score will have to be deducted.
So if Laura Kraut wins 40 points her lowest score of 26 points in Valkenswaard will have to be deducted leaving her with 14 points in Doha and a final score of 201. The same applies to Christian Ahlmann, Edwina Tops-Alexander, Luciana Diniz and Rolf-Goran Bengtsson who all already have six scores on the ranking.
Although German and British show jumping legends Ludger Beerbaum and Nick Skelton are in the top 10, they already have six scores counting. This means that if they scored points in Doha and their lowest scored was deducted, they cannot collect enough points to win the overall championship.
Britain's William Funnell is not yet confirmed to ride in Doha. He recently won British Bred Horse of the Year for Billy Congo for his amazingly consistent results in this season's Longines Global Champions Tour.
Millions of show jumping fans around the world are expected to tune in as the sun sets on Al Shaqab on Grand Prix day and the first round of the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Doha gets underway. Fans of show jumping from around the world will be cheering on their home riders. Those eligible to win the championship include riders from the United States of America, Brazil, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Portugal and Sweden all represented, highlighting the truly global nature of the Tour.
Jan Tops, President of the Longines Global Champions Tour, said: "As we go into the final event of the 2013 championship series we have a fantastic contest, where it is still possible for nine riders out of the top 11 to become champion. This really highlights the incredible level of sport we have witnessed all year. And we are thrilled to be staging the climax to the season at Al Shaqab, an unparalleled equestrian venue. Under the rules we have to follow, the scoring system is complex when it comes to the final result as only 50% of a rider's scores count. This can be difficult for people to follow and it is my hope that this can be simplified for the benefit of show jumping fans everywhere."
The battle for the championship has never been so closely fought among so many of the world's top riders. Over the next two weeks riders will decide which horse will carry their Grand Prix hopes. Some of the most spectacular jump offs in the Tour's history have already been witnessed this season and the Doha final event is set to deliver a tour de force of speed and precision.
Show jumping at the highest level will take place from Thursday 21st November to Saturday 23rd November at Al Shaqab in Doha, Qatar. For information on tickets and the timetable go to www.globalchampionstour.com/events/2013/doha