Cambodia's fast-emerging showjumping prospect Alicia Khiem is among riders from 18 countries competing in the elite 2nd Asian Equestrian Federation Junior Jumping Championship at HKJC Beas River Equestrian Center in Hong Kong's suburb of Sheung Shui on December 2 and 3.
Riders will start this competition with zero penalty and time and the top eight ranked riders after the first and second qualification will move into the two-round final. The top four after the first round of the final will be fighting for gold, silver and bronze medals besides the much coveted title of AEF champion.
After her competitive flings in Taiwan a couple of months ago and more recently in Bangkok, the young rider will be facing her stiffest test of skill and endurance. Alicia left Phnom Penh for Hong Kong yesterday in the company of Cambodian Equestrian Federation President Mona Tep, with coach Bertrand Minet scheduled to join them a day later.
"It is indeed a great honour for me to represent Cambodia in such a high-profile event and I am eager to do well," said Alicia.
"We are excited to get an invitation from Hong Kong for the first time. For a young and promising rider to be competing with some of the best of her age from countries known for their equestrian excellence is the best possible break she could have hoped for at this stage of her blossoming career," said CEF President Tep, who has been championing the cause of female equestrian athletes in Cambodia for several years.
Following her impressive showing in Taipei, Alicia could only finish mid-field in a tough competitive environment in the Princess Cup last weekend at the Royal Horse Guard Equestrian Park in Bangkok.
"Although she could not rise up to expectations, her participation did help her boost her self confidence, ability and aptitude," noted coach Bertrand Minet, who has been training her at a newly developed facility across the Mekong River, a short ferry ride from Phnom Penh.
With the support of the Thai Equestrian Federation, Alicia competed in three classes of the Princess Cup on her borrowed horse Smith Hg. In the 90cms she finished 11th out of 83 riders and 27th out of 57 in the 90-100cms. Stepping up to 105cms, Alicia was placed 33rd among 47 riders.
"Special thanks are due to Fuangvich Aniruth-Deva and the Thai Equestrian Federation for the invitation to Alicia and to the Royal Horse Guard for their hospitality and borrowed horses. We also owe a debt of gratitude to Kru Mana Sonkratok of NP Equestrian Club for supporting Alicia in this competition," said a statement from the CEF.