Quartet 'favoured at the expense of others' Top showjumper Jennifer Lee has hit out at an 'uneven playing field' in the Jockey Club's move to back only four riders on the international stage for the next four years. Lee's name was not among the quartet announced last week that will be backed to the tune of HK$50 million so they can prepare for the 2010 Asian Games, the 2010 World Equestrian Games and the 2012 London Olympics. The four who will form the Hong Kong Jockey Club Equestrian Team are Samantha Lam, Patrick Lam, Kenneth Cheng Man-kit and Gaelle Tong. 'The support of these four riders puts any other Hong Kong rider capable of competing at these games at a huge disadvantage,' Lee said. 'It is an uneven playing field, favouring those four, and excluding one or two very capable riders.' Lee is not eligible for the Asian Games as she is not Hong Kong-born, nor does she have Asian parents. 'Jockey Club representatives told me the Club's priority is the Asian Games, and that, as I do not have Asian parents, I would not be sponsored. But in our meeting they did not say that I would also be excluded from support for the other major competitions - the World Equestrian Games and the Olympics,' Lee said. 'They agree that my record is good - in the top four this past year - my assessment [for the Beijing Olympics] was good, and my commitment without question. What can I say? It doesn't matter how hard I work or how good my results are, if they choose to reject me on the basis of my ethnicity I have no chance,' she added. Earlier this year, Lee gave up her American citizenship to become a Hong Kong SAR passport-holder so she could take part in the Olympics where the eligibility requirements are not as stringent as the Asian Games. Unluckily for her, she had to withdraw from the Hong Kong Olympic squad after her horse, Mr Burns, was declared unfit. By putting aside HK$50 million solely for the use of the select four, Lee said it would make it hard for other aspiring riders to break into the picture and represent Hong Kong. 'The Jockey Club is effectively choosing the team for these competitions now, and not giving every capable rider a chance to fight for a place,' Lee claimed. 'How can I possibly compete with them when at its most basic level the number of competitions I can enter is limited?' Edwin McAuley, vice-president of the Hong Kong Equestrian Federation, said Lee had reason to feel upset but she would still be in the running to represent Hong Kong. 'The selection of these four was not part of the Hong Kong Equestrian Federation process,' he said. 'The Jockey Club is providing private sponsorship as they want a team under their name competing in Europe on a professional basis. 'I can see why an individual who has not been selected can feel upset. If I was her, I would be upset too. But I don't think there is anything unfair about this. It is just part of sporting life. 'The HKEF has the final say on picking teams to represent Hong Kong. The selection of these teams will be based, first on eligibility to take part, and second on performance. We won't pick a rider simply because he or she is part of the Jockey Club team.' Lee called for more riders to be in the frame. Apart from her, the other leading rider in the city, Jennifer Chang Ren-hui (who represented Hong Kong at the last Asian Games in Doha), has also been excluded. 'It would be more sensible to expand the base of support. They should sponsor, or even partially sponsor, a fifth or even a sixth rider,' Lee said. 'Every other country selects reserves. As we saw at the Olympics, reserves are essential because things can happen - a rider or horse can get injured for example.' The HK$50 million will also be used to launch a junior equestrian team programme. Samantha Lam, Patrick Lam, Cheng and Tong will be involved in the selection process and training of the juniors.