The host nation took team gold and Hong Kong’s Annie Ho claimed the individual title at the inaugural FEI Asian Eventing Championships at Pattaya in Thailand last weekend. Thai team members Thanaporn Chavatanont and Preecha Khunian also claimed individual silver and bronze.
The Championships were held at the fabulous Thai Polo and Equestrian Club, which has stabling for 120 horses and embraces almost 500 acres of countryside. Foreign Technical Delegate, Australian’s Geoff Sinclair, described the location as “world class” for Eventing. “The stabling, horse inspection area, dressage and jumping arenas, a true 1* Cross Country course design and veterinary facilities, including a new hospital, would be highly rated anywhere,” he commented.
Equestrian events were first included in the programme of the Asian Games back in 1998, and the development of Jumping in the region has blossomed ever since. However it has been a bit more of a struggle for the sport of Eventing, with the general competitive standard across Asia still at a fairly basic level in this discipline. These inaugural FEI Eventing Championships were therefore designed to help raise the standard of competition, and to increase the number of competitive opportunities for Asian athletes and their horses. Staged at CIC-CH 1* level, the Championships attracted 19 riders from five National Federations - Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan and Thailand.
Ho always looked the strongest contender and it was clear that she had not flown her horse Super Combed all the way from England without a firm plan for success. Having established the lead in the Dressage phase with a mark of 46.1, she added only 1.2 time penalties on Cross Country day and a single time fault in the final Jumping phase for a clear victory with a final tally of 48.2.
Thailand’s Thanaporn Chavatanont and Painters Peer were close behind after the first phase when the Dressage Ground Jury – New Zealand’s William Phiskie, Japan’s Sumiko Suzuki and Australia’s Ronald Paterson - awarded them a mark of 48.8. Japan’s sole representative, Negishi Atsushi riding Rata, was lying third on a score of 51.9 as Cross Country day began, but the run across the solid timber was to prove very influential indeed.
Both the Indian and Indonesian teams ran into problems over the track designed by New Zealand’s John Nicholson, leaving the host side, coached by Thailand’s 2012 Olympic Eventing representative Nina Lamsam Ligon, with no opposition for the team title. Only eight of the 19 starters managed to complete the course.
There were just seven individuals left to battle it out on the final day after the withdrawal of Thailand’s Korntawat Samran (Maximus F) in the second horse inspection. Ho’s single time fault over the coloured poles left her a very comfortable winner with more than a 23-point advantage over silver medallist Chavatanont who added 14.8 cross-country time penalties and four more for a fence down in the Jumping phase for a final total of 71.6.
With 14 Cross Country time penalties and 16 Jumping faults along with five for time, Japan’s Atsushi dropped to fourth, allowing Thailand’s Weerapat Pitakanonda (Monarchs Royal Touch), who completed on 72.9, to step onto the individual podium for bronze. Thailand’s Supanut Wannakol (O-Re-O) finished fifth ahead of Supap Khaw-Ngam (Ardbohill Lad) in sixth and the home side also filled seventh place when Naphatra Lerosilpjaroen (Adventurer) completed on a score of 106.9.
In the team event, Chavatanont was joined on the gold-medal winning side by Weerapat Pitakanonda (Monarchs Royal Touch), Supap Khaw-Ngam (Ardbohill Lad) who finished on 108.7, and Preecha Khunian (Miss Black Magic) who was one of the 11 eliminations from the starting field of 19.
Ho is already re-setting her targets, with the 2013 National Games, the 2014 Asian Games and even the 2016 Olympic Games now in her sights. Born in Hong Kong, she moved to Great Britain at the age of five and has a degree in Equine Business Management along with a British Horse Society instructor qualification. She was stable manager during the 2008 Olympic Test Event in Hong Kong, but lives in Surrey, England, and qualified for the FEI Asian Eventing Championships 2013 while competing on the British eventing circuit. She now returns to her British base as the first-ever FEI Asian Individual Eventing Champion.
FEI Asian Team Eventing Championship 2013: GOLD - Thailand 253.2: Painters Peer (Thanaporn Chavatanont) 71.6, Monarchs Royal Touch (Weerapat Pitakanonda) 72.9, Ardbohill Lad (Supap Khaw-Ngam) 108.7, Miss Black Magic (Preecha Khunian) 1050.
FEI Asian Individual Eventing Championship 2013: GOLD - Super Combed (Annie Ho) HKG 48.2; SILVER - Painters Peer (Thanaporn Chavatanont) 71.6; BRONZE - Monarchs Royal Touch (Weerapat Pitakanonda) 72.9.