Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani: Horse of a lifetime

    Story highlights

    • The Qatari praises First Devision as his favorite horse
    • The pair finished sixth at the 2016 Rio Olympics

    (CNN)Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani has been on the show jumping circuit for 17 years. His love for the sport has taken him all over the world, competing in prestigious events at iconic locations.

    It also means he's been lucky enough to ride some of the finest horses ever bred -- one of which stands out more than most.
      "Honestly speaking, with my heart, I love all my horses. I love them all the same. But I think my horse No. 1 is First Devision," the Qatari told CNN EQ.
      "We placed sixth in the Rio Olympic Games, and I've won a few grands prix with him.
      "I've had a lot of success with this horse. He's very, very talented."
      The pair are currently plying their trade on the Longines Global Champions Tour and Global Champions League, home to the world's premier team and individual show jumping events.
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      Olympic success

      Without a doubt, the highlight of his career has been the Olympics, and Sheikh Ali fondly remembers how well First Devision performed in Rio last year, thrived in testing conditions.
      "It was my first Olympic Games. We wanted to show that Qatari riders have improved a lot. We performed very well, better than we expected.
      "Brazil was perfect for me because the bigger the event, the better First Devision performs. The weather was very hot there, which isn't good for most horses, but for him it was perfect.
      "It was five days, and the more he jumped the better he got. Before going I didn't think about a medal, but when I was there I got a little bit more excited. I was so close to getting it in the final jump-off."
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      A family favorite

      But it's not just his performances in competition that have made First Devision so special. Outside the arena, he makes life easy for rider and grooms alike.
      "He's very quiet at home, all the grooms love him in the stables," says Sheikh Ali.
      "I always say to my friends that as soon as this horse retires from the sport, I'll take him to a new home.
      "He's so sweet with people... you can come and pat him and he'll never do anything. Even if kids sit in the saddle, he'll never do anything with them. He really enjoys life with humans.
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      "He's not a horse that's active all the time. He's so calm and lazy at home, but when you get him in the ring, he knows what to do."
      Mild mannered but with a competitor's instinct -- it's no surprise First Devision stands out as the horse of a lifetime.