The Cambodian Equestrian Federation’s determined effort to prepare an endurance team to take part in next year’s SEA Games in Malaysia has been boosted by the Thailand Equestrian Federation’s all-round support in the build-up.
As one of the leading nations in the region on the equestrian front, Thailand has stepped in to lend its experience and expertise to help Cambodia move past dressage and showjumping capabilities to the more demanding endurance events.
With the Malaysian SEA Games less than a year away, the CEF has taken the preparation of endurance riders to a war-footing since it is a mandatory eligibility criteria for a participating country to complete a minimum of four trials – three over 40 kilometres, extending to 80 kilometres for the final one.
After beginning this qualification process with an exploratory round last month, the CEF went through the first official 40km trial just before the Pchum Ben holiday break with the Thai federation sending three veterinarians and a coach to oversee the event that was held at the Khmer Equestrian Center situated in the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
The CEF will be holding its second 40km trial on October 23, with the third planned for November 13 and the all-important 80km run on December 11, well before the next July deadline for registering the Cambodian team with the SEA Games organisers.
“We are indeed very happy that our riders and their mounts stood up to this intense test of stamina in our official first trial. Five of the six national riders taking part completed the course,” the president of the CEF, Mona Tep, told the Post yesterday.
“We have a long way to go but we are greatly encouraged by the enthusiasm of the riders to learn, and the technical help from our neighbours Thailand has been a big part of our preparations,” she said.
For the record, 21-year-old Lon Sopheaktra, who has been a regular member of the national showjumping team, won the event ahead of teammates Sim Narith and Ly Sovanachandara.
Meanwhile, the CEF received as a gift from Thailand a piece of vital equipment used during a horse’s cooling-down period after an event and in controlling its heart rate. TEF manager Nara Ketusingha handed over the “heart watch” to CEF secretary-general Kao Vannarin.
The trial also created an opportunity for 12 veterinary sciences students from the Royal University of Agriculture to work with the vets and riders during the vet check and cool-down procedures.