One of the national riders aiming for the stars in this June’s SEA Games in Singapore, Lon Sopheaktra, astride his reliable partner Coco, won the top-tier 90cm Open Class event at the 10th National Show Jumping Championships, held under the royal patronage as Norodom Sihanouk du Cambodge 2015 at the Cambodian Country Club horse park on Sunday.
It was a tough task for Sopheaktra as his national teammate Ly Sovanachandara was breathing down his neck all the way until the fateful sixth fence when his mount Uva Negra stubbornly refused to jump and unseated him.
Once his closest pursuer was out of the way, Sopheaktra completed the routines without a hitch to land the top prize and also received royal gratification from Princess Norodom Marie, who witnessed the competition as the High Representative of King Norodom Sihamoni.
Two young and promising female riders in their early teens, Chenda Gossens (second) and Alicia Khiem (third), worked their way to a podium finish after Sovanachandara’s exit.
In the opening event of the day, 28 novices took off for the pony control, with 9-year-old Khontea Eno, representing Sihanoukville Liberty Ranch, emerging the winner on his mount May with a time of 57.56 seconds.
Oscar Pritzkat of CCC on Moka timed 58.28 seconds to take second spot ahead of 10-year-old Carolina Pradine of Sihanoukville Liberty Ranch, who also rode the same pony Moka to third place.
Riders from the CCC dominated a field of 15 in the 50cm junior section for 14 years and under.
Game pony Coco was again seen in good light when Dasha Roslyakova finished on top, guiding her mount with great assurance and upon her return she had the rewarding experience of receiving royal gratification from Princess Norodom Marie.
The two riders filling up the frame, Celianne de Wilde on Chochou in second spot and Kotomi Fujiwara riding the same pony in third, both put up impressive performances.
In the 60cm senior category for 14 and over, Samnang Prak of CCC had it easy on Caramel, keeping at bay two of his club mates, Marion Florentino on Juanca and Boujke Ypma on Uva Negra, who performed without any kinks this time.
As many as 63 riders took part in four classes of competition from Phnom Penh’s Cambodian Country Club, NGOs Maddox and Pour un Sourire d’Enfant, and Sihanoukville Liberty Ranch.
Earlier in her address at the closing ceremony, Princess Norodom Marie, recalled the late King Father’s passionate involvement with and steadfast support to the sport, and his love for horse riding as a Cadre Noir of Saumur School.
It may be recalled that it was the late King Father who was instrumental in sending Cambodia’s first ever Equestrian team to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Due to quarantine regulations at the time in Australia, the equestrian events were held in Stockholm.
It was a day to remember for young Yannick de Wilde who was given the the Cambodian Equestrian Federation’s Sporting Spirit Rider prize,
In her opening remarks, the Secretary General of the CEF, Mona Tep emphasised the significance of the traditional royal patronage for this sport, reminding the audience of the late King Father’s invaluable contribution both as a rider of repute himself and a staunch supporter of the equestrian community.