The Kids Are Alright

10 February 2018 - EEM World

There was a chance for local youth to shine in the second class of Day 2 of the Longines Masters of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Jockey Club Junior Challenge. All weekend long the stands at the event have been filled with an impressive number of youngsters, who have gotten behind the local riders and their favorite international with gusto; with this class, Hong Kong riders under the age of 21 were able to show that they also have what it takes in the showjumping arena. Leung Oi Man ran out winner of The Hong Kong Jockey Club Junior Challenge on Bamako M’Aurea, ahead of Nathaniel Chan on Lay Your Love On Z in second, and Michelle Li on Fiona D’Ecaussinnes in third.

A Table A-style competition not against the clock, The Hong Kong Jockey Club Junior Challenge was contested by members of The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Junior Equestrian Training Squad. A pair of illustrious judges were responsible for deciding the winner: Corinne Bracken, The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Performance Manager, and Ludger Beerbaum, a legendary figure in the world of equestrian sport. They each awarded two marks to the young competitors, one based on their performance and the other on their style. Leung finished three points ahead of second-placed Chan, receiving 9 out of 10 for performance and 8 for style from Beerbaum, and a pair of 9s from Bracken, for a total score of 35 out of 40.

Leung, 21, has been riding since she was six, and finished second in the competition last year, the previous time it was run. Like all the competitors, she had ridden her horse only a couple of times before, for a few minutes each over the previous couple of days, and overcame a nervous start from the animal. “I kind of expected it,” she said. “The horse doesn’t have that much experience, so I had to calm him down and reassure him. After my round I was pretty happy with how I rode him and how the horse worked with me.”

During the judging, Beerbaum commented: “When she came in the horse was really shy, but she did really well and found the right rhythm.”

He added: “I believe that this kind of class is really good for young girls and boys to be accurate on fundamentals. I really think that’s important to their future careers.”

All six of the horses in the competition were shipped over specially from the Ecurie d’Ecaussinnes stables in Belgium. A place of equestrian excellence, the stables have also played a pivotal role in the development of the Longines Masters Series, as the origin of EEM, which organizes the intercontinental series in Paris – Hong Kong and New York. 

Next, Day 2 of the Longines Masters of Hong Kong reaches an exciting conclusion with the Longines Speed Challenge, widely acknowledged as the World Speed Championship of equestrian sport. Part two of a three-part festival of speed that also takes in Paris and New York, it involves riders competing against the clock over 1.45m obstacles, with a reduced time penalty of two seconds per fault encouraging them to push their mounts to the very limit.