To cap my pitiful attempt at updating this blogspot with old articles let me just represent again this article made as a run-up the the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games 2001 OK... Cheerio!!!
Document 18 of 401
Publication : NST
Edition : 2*
Date : 19/07/2001
Page Number : 36
Headline : `Looking better than Chiangmai'
Words : 481
Byline : By Radzi Sapiee
EQUESTRIAN sports were introduced at the Sea Games in Singapore in 1983. Back then, equestrian consists of combined training comprising both dressage and show-jumping, and polo.
The host nation were clearly ahead in the first discipline to win both the team and individual gold while Malaysia, fielding what was essentially the Royal Pahang Polo Club team with Tengku Mahkota Pahang Tengku Abdullah among them, thrashed Singapore and the Philippines to win the polo gold.
Malaysia also won the combined training team bronze through Datuk Awang Kamaruddin Abdul Ghani, a pioneer in the first equestrian Sea Games team and laid the foundation for the future.
Since then, equestrian has not been competed in the Games until Chiangmai in 1995, where Malaysia won the showjumping gold and individual silver, three-day eventing individual silver and dressage team bronze.
That was also the last time equestrian made the Games. Malaysia proved formidable in both disciplines and are now acknowledged as the showjumping and dressage powerhouses, having won the 1998 Asian Games showjumping individual bronze and dressage team silver in Bangkok ahead of other Asean nations.
The only equestrian discipline that Malaysia are struggling to catch up is three-day eventing. Thailand won both team and individual gold when the sport was introduced at the Chiangmai Games and they beat all challengers at the Asian Games to emerge champions.
Then again, Malaysia never had a proper eventing team until the Gemilang 2001 squad were assembled last year for the KL Games in September. The sport involves dressage, cross-country riding and showjumping and the riders used to be assembled ad hoc from other disciplines but we still won an individual silver in Chiangmai.
The team are now fully dedicated to the job, having trained in New Zealand last year and they got five specially-trained horses from there to help them compete in KL with Chiangmai silver medallist Husref Abdul Malek to lead the charge. Thus, the Equestrian Association of Malaysia (EAM) have targetted an individual gold and a team silver this time.
For showjumping, EAM have targetted an individual gold but we still have Asian Games bronze medallist Quzeir Ambak Mahamad Fathil in the squad and younger brother Qabil, who has overtaken his sibling as the nation's best showjumper, to strengthen the team.
For dressage, EAM have targetted both the team and individual gold. Qabil and his youngest sibling, sister Quzandria Nur, won the Asian Games team dressage silver and the team are still improving.
Last but not least is endurance riding, which will make its Sea Games debut in KL. The sport is still an unknown quantity but we do have a world-class rider in Awang Kamaruddin, who have won international races since he took up the discipline in 1998.
In total, Malaysia are targetting five of the seven equestrian gold medals on offer.
EACH sport, except for endurance which only offers the individual gold, will have five competitors from each country. However, only four can fight for the team gold and only points from the best three counts. The fifth rider in each sport can still fight for the individual gold.
Competitors for the individual titles are selected from the team events.
For eventing, it runs concurrently, meaning the best person in the team event is the individual winner. For dressage, the best 10 riders in the team event will make the individual final while showjumping has an individual qualifying round combined with the first and second round of the team competition. The best 12 riders and any number of those who shared 12th place after that will battle for the individual gold.
All equestrian sports will be held at the Selangor Turf Club, except for the cross-country section of eventing at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Serdang and endurance which will be held at a 105km course near Sg Labu and Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
THE Sea Games event will be AM5 - there will be a first round where riders have to clear the course, about the size of a hockey field with about 12 obstacles comprising 130cm-tall single, double and triple bars within a stipulated time.
Failure to clear a bar will result in a fault of four points and time penalty of a point per second will be given to those who exceed the time limit.
A fault of four is also given for each refusal - after a horse refused to make a jump. The competitor will be disqualified if his horse refused twice.
The best riders from the first round - those who made the least faults or none at all - will proceed to the jump-off where riders will repeat the whole process using half the obstacles. Unless there is a clear winner from the first round, for example, if one rider has a fault of four while the rest has more, there is no need for the jump-off. Otherwise, the winner is the person who completed the jump-off with the least fault and the fastest time, exactly in that order.
Currently, there are six riders in the national squad fighting through the national circuit to make the squad of five.
THIS is the most subjective of the equestrian sport as the points are mainly gathered in two parts - performance and appearance.
One dressage rider said you could lose a competition simply because the judges don't like the way you look. The same applies to horses and dressage horses tended to be well-groomed with their hair often braided. So appearance matters.
The main thing is to negotiate the horses through an outline of geometrical figures to be decided by the technical committee.
Sometimes, the horses are made to walk and trot sideways, sometimes backward to follow lines or circles which only appear in the plan to be memorised by the riders and executed on the course. The idea is to get the horses to do it as daintily as possible, as if it was doing it on its own.
AS the name implies, the event is held over three days starting with the dressage section, cross-country the next day and showjumping on the third. The rules for the first and third section is almost the same as regular dressage and showjumping except the points are converted to penalty points plus there is no disqualification for refusal in the last section.
The cross-country section involves galloping the horse on a 4km trail as fast as possible with minimum mistakes. The penalties from all sections are then added and the rider with the
least is the winner.
PERHAPS the most gruelling of the disciplines, the Sea Games event will be held over 105km in four stages of 40km, 35km, 20km and 10km. This is equivalent to the smallest endurance race staged in Europe under the FEI (world equestrian body), where first-class races are always above 130km.
Then again, the sport is making its Sea Games debut and many are still learning the ropes.
So far, only one 105km race has been held in the Peninsular for the Sea Games qualifying at the same trail to be used for the Games, near Sg Labu and Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
Veterinarian checks are held at the start, finish and in-between stages and riders are required to submit their horses within 30 minutes of arriving at the check points. Horses found limp, dehydrated or those exceeding a certain heart-rate (normally 64 beats per minute) will be
disqualified with the riders.
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