It was but fitting that the overall team championship in the inaugural head-to-head equestrian meet between the Philippines and Malaysia was to be decided by the very last event between local national rider Paola Lorenzo and past Southeast Asian Games’ medalist Mohammad Nabil Fikri Bin Ismael in the 1.2m. class.
Held at the posh Manila Polo Club last Sunday with an appreciative weekend crowd on hand, the tournament was the Equestrian Philippines Riders Tour 2019, featuring a dual meet between the two countries.
Using a borrowed horse Lobella, owned by her national teammate Nicole Camcam, the current MPC Jumping Rider of the Year Lorenzo ended up with a clear race, while her opponent Bin Ismail had one knockdown that determined not only the individual event result but the team championship as well.
Malaysia actually had more individual titles, three to the host country’s two, not counting the victory of open entry Nikki Aboitiz aboard Azais de Sainte Hermelle, in the 1.0m class, where she beat Camcam, riding Rubis Landais, by a second in a jump-off.
Twelve-year-old Arysha Haya Kanda, aboard Magic Mio, figured in a jump-off with another local open entry Katrina Oligares (riding Quatrain du Lesme), with the Malaysian emerging champion in the 0.65m. class event for her country’s first title.
In the 0.90m class, which featured a one-on-one between German national but Philippine-based Mohamed El Akad (riding My Name is Coco Jambo) and Adam Hariz Bin Kamaludin, the latter took the title after El Akad hit a crossbar for a knockdown, allowing the Malaysian to win his country’s second individual title.
The 1.10m class also saw another jump off, this time between national team member Lara Zobel (riding Lander van Bijstervel) and NorrineIra Dewal Binti Md Ali (aboard Joker Arroyo’s Concept TM), with the Malaysian winning by time for her country’s third title.
Earlier, Alessandra Ynares aboard Cooper, had an easy win in the 0.75m. class after her opponents Holigores went over the time allowed, while Malaysian entry Sophia Fatima Chea Binti Johari used a wrong course for the Philippines’ first individual victory.
Lorenzo added the second title for the hosts in the final event, with the total points earned by the Top 4 riders of the two national teams determining the team crown.
“We are certainly happy with the results of this inaugural event, which is part of MPC’s regular series. Definitely, it was a good exposure for our young riders including the open entries and we in the Equestrian Philippines will continue to do for the sport what needs to be done,” said Carissa Coscoluella, President of the organizing Equestrian Philippines Inc.
Before the race started, national team coach Joker Arroyo expressed optimism of her team’s chances.
“I have a very talented group of riders and I believe we have the home-court advantage even as the riders were all using different horses, not their own. Malaysia’s advantage is their riders have more experience with this type of format.”
Malaysian head coach and former SEA Games’ medalist Syed Omar Almohdzar said the major factor in the competition was how well the riders and the horses adjusted to each other in such a short time.
“Next year, we are planning to reciprocate by inviting the Philippines to Malaysia,” Almohdzar said.
MPC Director for Polo and Equestrian Enrique Antonio Filamor lauded the event, which saw an unprecedented number of spectators, for representing the club’s core values: “Congratulations for delivering a world class family centered event. Thank you to the members who have sponsored this Manila Polo Club event; it was truly memorable for all our members and their families.”
The Equestrian PH Riders Tour is sponsored by Aruga by Rockwell, Metro Society, Ramen Nagi, SSI Group, Inc., Bench, Bootcamp, Metro.Style, Metro Channel, Mrs. Fely Arroyo, Churreria La Lola, Wendy’s, Yalla Yalla, Massage by Us, All That Glitters, Fille et Fils, Midas Hotel, Joy Nostalg, Manila Diamond Hotel, and is supported by the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Red Cross.