Cambodia’s Alicia Khiem became the first female rider from the Kingdom to achieve an international podium finish after her impressive third place at the Asian Equestrian Federation Junior Showjumping Championship, which concluded at the Beas River Equestrian Center in Hong Kong on Sunday.
Competing with three boys in the four-rider final round, Alicia timed 55.57sec to complete the round astride big male grey Jockey Club Crunship with four penalty points to finish third behind the winner Nataniel Chan of Hong Kong and second placed Saidamirkhon Turgunboev of Uzbekistan.
Alicia’s mount Crunship mixed his often smooth jumping with a few kinks, once clipping the top bar and twice fighting shy to jump, crucial penalties pushing her out of the second place she had held. An issue with the bridle also left her powerless to control a large horse like Crunship.
“She was the lone lady on the podium. It was exciting to see her jump 120cm for the first time in such a big event. She showed lot of courage and confidence,” enthused Cambodian Equestrian Federation (CEF) President Mona Tep, who watched the action from the stands.
“It has been a breakout year for the CEF. We won a SEA Games medal in August. Alicia’s placing in Hong Kong is a big break. I hope Lon Sopeaktra can end the year on a high later this month in an endurance contest in Thailand,” Tep said.
“The support of Angela Hong, the secretary-general of the Hong Kong Equestrian Federation, and Jack Huang, the FEI [International Federation for Equestrian Sports] representative from Group VIII, was crucial in getting all these opportunities to compete.”
Alicia, who turned 17 last month, had a clear first round qualification on another grey, Acceleration. A tidy performance in the next round brought her into the medal round, which was her last fling at a junior event.
A pleased Bertrand Minet, Alicia’s coach, said the Hong Kong performance should act as a spur when she steps up to the higher level next year.