Cheng leaves nothing to chance

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 August, 2008, 12:00am

Hong Kong's heat and humidity are bound to be problematic for most of the visiting riders and their horses, but should be less of an issue for showjumper Kenneth Cheng Man-kit.

Even though Cheng (pictured) is representing Hong Kong, his preparation - like that of many riders - has been in Europe. It included a lengthy period helping his horses adapt to the likely conditions here - while in Belgium.

At his training base in the Belgian countryside, the 20-year-old rider and his coach have tried simulating the Hong Kong climate for Cheng's Olympic horses - Jockey Club Can Do and reserve Felton Lee.

'As most of the events will be held at night, we have specially arranged the training sessions for my horses in the evening, under floodlights,' Cheng said.

'We also adjusted the humidity in our training house [an indoor arena] to a much higher level so the horses could adapt to a humid environment similar to Hong Kong.'

Aside from the daily work at the Henk Nooren Training Stable, Cheng also took part in various warm-up competitions in Europe with Jockey Club Can Do, competing at least once a week.

'I've partnered with my horse for only six months, much shorter than the average one or two years needed for a rider to develop an implicit understanding with a horse,' Cheng said.

With a tight schedule, he had to risk injuries to his horse in order to participate in warm-up events.

'Injuries are almost unavoidable in competitions. But we have no option, as the warm-up events are part of our preparation to keep us in top condition both physically and psychologically.'