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Horse jumping taking off


Cambodian Country Club and Cambodian Equestrian Federation President Van Sou Ieng (left) and Technical Director Soraya Ourrais stand in front of the show jumping park at the CCC. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun

Cambodia’s equestrian stocks are soaring high after a splendid international debut run by a three-member team in the Xmas Jumping event in Bangkok last week.

The two-day tournament held at Equestrian Paradice in Nakhon Nayok’s Klong district drew the best from seasoned 30-year-old rider Hoy Sopparith and two teenagers Jim Narith, 17, and Lon Sopheattra, 14, who performed well beyond expectations on mounts they barely knew. The two mares and a pony they partnered were rentals.

All three contestants, who train in Phnom Penh’s only equestrian facility, the Cambodian Country Club, emerged with seven clear rounds and some notable speed tackles to earn all round praise.

With the bars set between 50 centimetre to 1 metre, it took  some time for the Cambodian threesome to get the feel of the course. But after making the best of the training sessions and getting to know their horses, it was Lon Sopheatra who pulled off the first surprise by winning his first class 50centimetre accumulator. In the next phase, he rode a clear round in the 70 centimetre event and finished second in the 80 centimetre.

Jim Narith had a fast round in 70 centimetre accumulator class to take top honours. He also had a speedy ride in the tough 1 metre to get up to fourth place.

For the experienced Sopparith, it was a mixed bag. He had a clear round at 70 centimetres, but was unlucky in the next two classes with a couple of runouts preventing his ribbon chase.

Team trainer Guillaume Carvivain saw the results as deeply encouraging and a positive sign for the future. The Frenchman felt that with a regular and efficient training programme, there was indeed scope for huge improvement.

“The team was clearly stressed by the level of competition, but they did not let this control them,” he said. “The results were good, and I am confident our riders can step up to the challenges of taking on the 1 metre to 1.2 metre scale that the next SEA Games offers.”

The Technical Director of the Cambodian Equestrian Federation, Soraya Ourrais, who also oversees the running of the CCC facility, said: “This result can be seen as a success on many different levels. We feel we are now ready to field our national team in the next SEA Games in Indonesia [in November this year].

“More important than the ribbons that they bring home with them, the positive impression they have made is what ultimately counts.

“Feedback from some of our neighbours on the performances of our boys has been quite encouraging. We have, from the Federation’s perspective, started our work to prepare a team for the SEA Games. We feel that interest in equestrian sport is at its peak now and we are confident it will grow.”

President of the CCC and CEF Van Sou Ieng said the federation was determined to take the sport to the next level and these results could not have come at a better time.

Meanwhile, the CCC is spreading its sports wings with several notable additions to its existing infrastructure. A mini football pitch joined the list recently, and the club is determined to raise its profile further by playing a supporting role to the Tennis Federation of Cambodia’s two international tournaments coming up in the third week of this month.

“We are looking forward to the two future events,” said Van Sou Ieng. “We are proud to have them in our backyard.”

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