Touqi dazzles at Paris meet
It brings together under one roof the world's elite show jumping riders and the best horses and is one of the most prestigious equestrian events in the world – Longines Masters of Paris.
The four-day equestrian extravaganza concluded at Paris-Nord Villepinte Exhibition Center in the French capital on Sunday and amid the world's leading riders and Olympic champions, Oman's Sultan al Touqi made his presence felt with a dazzling performance.
The 24 year old, making his debut at the Longines Masters, captured a 'dream' podium finish on Sunday, the Grand Prix day in Paris, as he finished fifth in the CSI1* - Masters Three Top Jock Grand Prix.
A strong field of 26 riders took to the arena in the event and in the first round of the 1.30m Grand Prix, Sultan was one of the ten who qualified for the jump-off in the second round.
Great Britain's Tess Carmichael emerged as the fastest in 37.60 seconds astride
Atlantis Pp Z against the clock to win the top honours in the second round.
Only Carmichael and hosts' Claire Chaix, who posted a time of time of 39.20s, riding Univers de Maugre, managed to stay clear over the difficult final round against the clock.
Touqi was the fifth-best astride Taloubetzeus K Z as the top-eight made it to the podium.
France's Paloma de Crozals on Bergame de I'Yserand was third while Belgium's Christophe de Brabander riding Geneve de Muze edged Touqi to take the fourth place.
Backed by Amouage, Touqi, had earlier rode Gameboy in another category and had finished fourth.
Speaking after the podium finish on Sunday, Touqi said, “The past few days have been monumental in Omani show jumping history. We have been trying hard to raise the Omani flag on podium at a world-class stage and finally, we have succeeded.
“I would like to thank Amouage for its support as it would not have been possible to compete at such a grand stage without its strong backing.”
Touqi is accompanied by his father, Hamood al Touqi, who also doubles up as a coach, and trainer Ingrid van der Wiedden at the Longines Masters.
Hamood al Touqi, himself a decorated show jumping Oman champion, said, “Thank God, we got an opportunity to fly our national flag at a world-class five-star event. In the past too, Sultan has brought glory when in 2010 he became the first-ever Olympic champion after he had won the silver in the team event at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.
“We hope that Sultan can represent Oman at the Olympic Games in show jumping. It is his dream and we at the Olympic Equestrian Centre in Muscat, will work hard to achieve it.”
The Longines Masters of Paris featured more than ten Olympic champions while there were young talents like Touqi who also were provided the opportunity by EEM, the organisers, to compete in Masters Two and Masters Three events at a competition on courses created by the same course designer – Germany's Frank Rothenberger, one of the world's best-known names in course design.
The Parisian leg is the tenth edition of the Longines Masters Series. Following the Paris event, the series will proceed to Hong Kong in February and then to New York in April.
However, for Touqi, the Paris leg will remain forever etched in his memory as he will not be participating in Hong Kong and New York leg of the series.