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Grand Prix glory goes to Phun Pheaktra on Dara

Grand Prix glory goes to Phun Pheaktra on Dara

Spills, thrills, fascinating riding feats and above all, the presence of His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni added up in good measure to make the third and final leg of the ninth edition of the 2013 Norodom Sihanouk du Cambodge Show Jumping Championship a memorable experience at the Cambodian Country Club horse park on Sunday.

The Royal visit to a neatly arranged exhibition of rare photographs showing late King Father Norodom Sihanouk’s passion for horses and his equestrian adventures as a cavalier, set a sentimental tone before the start of the day’s exciting afternoon session.

The King not only watched with intense interest a young generation of riders in action and openly expressed his admiration for them, but he also spent time at the stables, meeting professionals in the field who keep equine activity going at the only park of its kind in the country.

While announcing his support for the national team, the King pledged to renew his late father’s wish of sustained Royal Palace support for the Cambodian Equestrian Federation (CEF).

On the jumping front, it was the showpiece of the competition, the 90cm Grand Prix, which produced the high drama of a four-rider jump-off and the heartbreaking disqualification of a would-have-been winner on a
technical issue.

Minutes after Phun Pheaktra had coaxed his reliable grey Dara to a stunningly clear round at 33.13 seconds, came an equally brilliant show by Sim Narith, jumping last on Coco and going through the routines faultlessly in a fractionally better time.

Then came the shock, and an unforgettable lesson for life in discipline for Sim Narith, who in his exuberance had failed to present himself before the judges for the final bell, a technical slip that inevitably led to his dis-

A somewhat distraught Sim Narith told the Post that in those gripping moments and the sheer joy of doing so well the bell just did not ring in his mind and was terribly disappointed to go out the way he did having gone into the third leg sixth in standings.

However, the incident in no way cast a shadow on Pheaktra’s grand show and his cool and confident ride. His third-leg victory, on top of his similar showing in the second leg on January 27, sealed his overall championship title.

Phat Makara took the runner-up spot, with Moeung Socheat holding the third remunerative berth.

It was indeed a disappointing round for the first leg winner and second leg runner-up Ly Sovanachandara, whose mount, Zoff, got into kinky ways and refused to jump three times, forcing an elimination.

Germany’s Greta Masche rode home her consistency to a much anticipated triumph in the Pony Control class, with Belgian Fauve DeLanghe playing second fiddle. Australian-Cambodian Chetra Mortensen finished third.

French girl Esther Zina Gulbert was a popular winner of the 50cm junior category. Belgian-Rwandan Celiane de Wilde emerged next best ahead of nine-year-old Ebeltje Ypma of Holland, who also picked up another prize for being the best-attired rider.

Australian-French rider Tess Galloway-Bussi caused a huge buzz by leaving some talented local male riders behind in scaling the top of the 50cm Senior division. One of the prominent pacesetters, Pascal Keo, had to be content with second place with Dy Veasna filing in third.

In another French success story, Cheng Along Tara came out on top in the 70cm Intermediate level. Cambodian-Belgian Chenda Goossens and France’s Lola Mottet finished behind the winner in that order.

Six female riders from Thailand were also in the competitive mix in different categories, with a couple of them producing inspired displays.

According to the team coach, these riders were thrilled to be part of this one-off event to build up their overseas experience.

The biggest cheer and round of applause was reserved for five-year-old Romyda Astgen, who was awarded a special prize for displaying best fighting spirit. The little girl had to be lifted up to the top of the podium to collect her well deserved souvenir.

In his opening remarks, the president of the Cambodian Equestrian Federation, Van Sou Ieng, traced the colourful history of the Equestrian sport in the country and paid rich tributes to the late King Father for his unwavering support over the years.

CEF secretary general Tep Mona told the Post: “It is such an honour to be under Royal Patronage by His Majesty during this event. We are so blessed and proud.”

Meanwhile, pledges of support for the national team in December’s SEA Games to be held in Myanmar came from two sources – local car distributor RM Asia Ford and the president of the Southeast Asian Equestrian Federation, Harald Link.

To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]