Showjumper Edwina Tops-Alexander aims for the world's top ranking
Australian star wants a good result in tonight's finale at the Asia-World Expo to boost her hopes of becoming world's best show jumper
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The world's leading woman show jumper, world No 4 Edwina Tops-Alexander, has set her sights on reaching the summit of the sport and tonight's finale at the Longines Hong Kong Masters - the Grand Prix - will play a huge part in her bid to do so.
"Hong Kong counts hugely towards my ranking. It is very important to do well here and a top three finish will help me.
"I don't think it will push me to number one next month but it will boost my chances. A lot will also depend on how the other riders in the top 10 fare," said Edwina yesterday.
In 2009, soon after taking part at the Beijing Olympics, the Australian was the only female rider to break into the world's top 10, a preserve solely dominated by men.
She has proved it was no flash in the pan by staying in this company for the last four years.
"It feels good to be among the best in the world. I feel I'm a role model for women, not just in show jumping but in sport in general," said Edwina who is trying to emulate Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, the first woman ever ranked number one in show jumping.
"There are not too many sports where men and women compete on an equal footing and the fact that we are working with an animal makes it more interesting and challenging. But of course, I want to go higher and become number one."
It all possibly started in Hong Kong for Edwina. Back in 1996, she arrived to take part in an international competition at Beas River and duly won it.
The following year Edwina was named rider of the year and she has never looked back since.
"I remember my first time in Hong Kong. I rode on a borrowed horse and won that competition. I have always loved Hong Kong since," she laughed.
Today Edwina has 10 horses and is sponsored by two luxury brands. "Everyone [in the top 10] is on each other's tail. Tomorrow [in the Longines Grand Prix] it will all depend on the horses but I'm still not sure which of my two horses I will ride," said Edwina.
The 38-year-old rode Erenice Horte, a nine-year-old mare in yesterday's opening event, the Prix Airbus competition against the clock, but fared poorly, finishing 18th out of 22 riders.
Irishman Dennis Lynch riding Night Train won the warm-up event and a purse of US$10,890.
"Erenice has not been as good as she can be. She is still young and I don't really like to go fast with her," Edwina said.
Her second horse is Guccio, an 11-year-old bay stallion.
Perhaps she is saving it all for tonight where total prize money is US$700,000 with more than US$200,000 going to the winner, plus valuable ranking points at stake.
"This is the key event," said Edwina.
All the men out there had better watch out.