Trainer targets eventing at Asian Games
Tommy Kwan Kwok-ming, a riding instructor at the Jockey Club's Beas River Country Club, is hoping to become the first eventing rider to represent Hong Kong at the Asian Games.
Kwan, who claimed bronze in the preliminary eventing competition at the Beijing Olympic equestrian test events in Hong Kong in 2007, will take part in this weekend's Horse of the Year Show - one of the qualifiers for the Asian Games in Guangzhou.
'I have a strong passion for equestrian sports and look forward to higher goals in international competitions,' said Kwan, who has been involved in the training of retired racehorses to become equestrian horses for more than 10 years.
'The Asian Games this year serves this purpose well for it features all the top riders from the region. Hong Kong has never been represented in eventing at the Asian Games and it would be a great honour to become the first rider to make it.'
Kwan has started an intensive five- to six-day programme with his horse Magical Lot, covering flat work and exercises in the three disciplines of eventing - dressage, jumping and cross-country.
A gelding from Australia, Magical Lot had a poor record on the race track before being retired in 2005; the 10-year-old started 21 times, finishing third once and earned prize money of only HK$105,000.
Yet after turning into an equestrian horse in 2006, Magical Lot has won one gold in dressage, a silver in showing jumping and one silver and one bronze in cross-country.
'In my experience as a trainer, I have found that many horses that have failed to achieve good results on the track can become good equestrian horses,' Kwan said.
'Magical Lot is bold and talented. Although he is sometimes careless in jumping and knocks down the obstacles, he always achieves outstanding results in cross-country events.
'I am working hard to reduce his faults in jumping and hope he can become a good eventing horse.'
Each year, there are about 350 horses that are retired from Hong Kong racing. Most of them are aged between six and nine and are still in good physical condition.
'These horses will usually be retrained for three to six months before they are deployed at the club's riding schools or other privately run centres,' Kwan said.
'The programme will focus on adjusting racehorses' relatively strong and bold temperament, training them to master fundamental equestrian skills, strengthening their level of obedience and improving their muscles so that they can support the heavier riders in equestrian sports.
'If Magical Lot successfully qualifies for the Asian Games, he will become the first Hong Kong retired racehorse to take part in an international event at such a high level.'
Kwan and Magical Lot face another international competition before they are selected for the Hong Kong team.