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Cambodian show jumping coming on leaps and bounds

The Norodom Sihanouk Du Cambodge Show Jumping Championships at the Cambodian Country Club has helped promote horse riding in the Kingdom

Photo by: PHA LINA
A child from the Cheval Avenir Programme rides Cheyenne during the event at the Cambodian Country Club January 17.

CAMBODIA has had a long association with horses, as evidenced by riders depicted on bas-reliefs at Ankgor Wat. It is clear that in the past the Khmers were a nation of proud horsemen and now the Kingdom has welcomed the return of equestrians.

On January 17, the first round of the 2010 Norodom Sihanouk Du Cambodge Show Jumping Championships confirmed the growth of the sport here with a greater number of locals than ever learning to ride and compete.

Sim Narith, last year’s overall winner of the Grand Prix division, finished third from the opening day and will be trying hard in the next two events to finish in the top three to gain a shot at the title again.

Sim Narith’s story is of triumph through adversity and, through support from the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, he has found passion and diligence to win Cambodia’s major title.

The Cambodia Equestrian Federation is based at the Cambodia Country Club (CCC) in Phnom Penh and its President, Philippe Garcia, is excited about the continued growth of the sport amongst both Cambodians and expatriates.

“It is a sport that teaches pride and respect for both animals and people, while improving coordination, balance and strength,” he expressed. “Over the past six years, we have seen the improvement of many riders, and more recently the grooms at the Club have become very good and will one day be a part of a growing pool of riders representing this country in equestrian events”.

The club’s ponies are from Cambodian blood lines, sourced throughout the country, while two thoroughbreds and two Australian quarter horses have their bloodlines from Australia, with the thoroughbreds having had racing careers in Thailand before joining the CCC.

The championships are held over three event days, with prizes awarded after each while the grand champion of each division calculated by total points. Sixty five competitors are competing in six categories, with the next competition held this Sunday and the finale on February 7.

While the judges will be scoring the jumping and successful completion of the course, riders will also be judged on grooming, presentation and horsemanship. With increased interest in the sport across the region, the Cambodia Equestrian Federation believes that before too long, the horse and rider will again be an important part of the Cambodian landscape.

The Cambodian Country Club has designated the next two days of the show jumping as open days, inviting the public to enjoy watching the event while also being free to make use of the entire club’s facilities. Entrance is free and competition runs from 9:00am to noon and 2.30pm to 5:00pm, with the premier divisions jumping in the later session. The final day offers double points for all competitors, making it an interesting and exciting event all the way to the end.

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