Home Team on Track

9 February 2018 - EEM World

There was a home win for Hong Kong in the second event of Day 1 of the Longines Masters of Hong Kong, when Team Dash, consisting of Clarissa Lyra and Vincent Ho, came home first in the Kong Jockey Club Race of the Riders.

The race brought together two much-loved equestrian sports, combining the speed-filled world of Hong Kong’s favourite sport, horse racing, with the subtler skills of control shown in the showjumping arena. The exhibition event, sponsored by Longines Masters Founding Partner Hong Kong Jockey Club, paired four leading Hong Kong jockeys with star showjumpers in a gripping team sprint relay over a showjumping course.

Contested over seven 0.70m obstacles for the jockeys and seven 1.2m obstacles for the riders, the Hong Kong Jockey Club Race of the Riders was all about entertainment, and it certainly engaged the crowd with a gripping display of jumping against the clock. But while the race might have been an interlude of light-hearted fun for the audience, the competitors were still deadly serious in their desire to come home victorious in the race.

When I was young I dreamed of being a showjumper, so to have an opportunity to take part in this kind of 5* event is a dream come true,” says Ho. “And to win tonight: I just love it. For Hong Kong it’s just great.”

There was frustration again for jockey Neil Callan, though, who came second in the event for the fourth time, as part of Team JC with Simon Delestre. They and Team Dash reached the final of the event after qualifying from a first round also featuring local Hong Kong rider Jacqueline Lai alongside jockey Derek Leung in Team Gen; and last year’s winning jockey João Moreira, who this year was partnered with Reed Kessler in Team Bloom. Team Dash notched a time of 74.12 seconds in the first round, including one four-second penalty after Lyra knocked down fence 3, while Team JC finished with no faults but a slower time of 74.24 seconds.

With the final run in reverse order, Lyra deliberately took a conservative line, safe in the knowledge that Team JC’s time of 87.14 seconds, including two fences down, could be beaten without taking risks.

It was a big advantage going second because I knew Neil had knocked down a couple of fences,” she says. “And Vincent rode so well the first time that I just told him to do the same thing again.”

Ho was equally generous about his partner. “Clarissa is just great – she’s so talented,” he says. “I believe that if she became a jockey, she’d be better than me.”

Next up, the Longines Masters of Hong Kong returns to competitive action with Masters One event the Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy, which looks certain to bring the Day 1 action to a close with a bang.