The 2020 Longines Global Champions Tour and Global Champions League has officially been declared open in Doha.
The tour has grown from strength to strength since its inception in 2006, increasing from 6 events to this year’s calendar of 18 events including the GC Prague Playoffs, spanning 3 continents and 18 iconic locations around the world.
Al Shaqab is the launchpad for the new season, with 50 riders from 15 different countries heading to Qatar’s capital city from 5-7 March to take part in these high-stakes competitions under the stunning soaring architecture of the Longines Arena at Al Shaqab. The best riders in the world are in attendance, including 9 of the top 10 riders from the LGCT overall season ranking at the Finals in 2019, setting the scene for an electrifying weekend of sport.
Omar Al Mannai, LGCT first leg Event Director and Al Shaqab Commercial Manager, said: "In 2013, we started hosting LGCT here in Al Shaqab. It’s incredible to experience this kind of event. LGCT continues to attract new partners - local and international - to be part of this story here in Qatar and this is important for us as hosts. We now have almost 40 000 spectators attending over three days so we have really developed the event."
Jan Tops, LGCT and GCL President and Founder, spoke of the huge anticipation among fans around the world for the kick-off event of the season: "I think Al Shaqab is a unique place in the world, they really think of everything. The public attendance is increasing every year, which is very nice to see. The whole place is picture perfect. We are excited to see all the teams battle for their places for the title.”
Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts, one of the world's top riders and a member of the London Knights GCL team, will be one to watch this season. He brings some talented horses to the competition this weekend, including Katanga, who placed fifth in the Grand Prix at last week's CHI AL SHAQAB event at Al Shaqab.
Philippaerts said: "For us as riders, it’s an incredible place, we always look forward to coming back here. The weather is good, the facilities are perfect, all the riders come here with their best horses. The event and venue is good preparation for this year’s Olympic Games."
Fans around the world will be able to watch all the action live on GCTV throughout the weekend.
For the convenience of spectators attending the event, Al Shaqab is providing a shuttle service from the Al Shaqab metro station on the Green Line to the Longines Arena at Shaqab. The service will run at 10-minute intervals during the competition.