After rubbing shoulders with ‘truly amazing’ riders at Longines Masters, Jacqueline Lai set for rare Lunar New Year with family
Denmark-based Lai finishes 18th out of 20 on her 13-year-old stallion Basta and is looking forward to some down time with family
The final day of the Longines Masters was an eye-opener for Hong Kong’s Jacqueline Lai Jing-man but she was quick to shift her focus to birthday celebrations and a rare Lunar New Year spent with family.
Denmark-based Lai finished 18th out of 20 on her 13-year-old stallion Basta and she is now looking forward to some down time with family ahead of a hectic year that features the Asian Games in August followed by the World Equestrian Games in the United States.
“I can’t remember the last time I spent Chinese New Year with my family because I am always away,” Lai said. “It always feels good staying with your family for the big festival.”
Lai was not discouraged by her effort, saying she is a much better rider now than she was three years ago when she first took part in the event.
“I feel great even though I lost here today,” said Lai, who will be celebrating her 27th birthday this week. “I can’t be upset that I ranked behind these riders as they are truly amazing. It’s another learning experience which is really vital to my growth.
“This show has showed how much I have grown in the last few years, especially from the first year I rode in the Hong Kong Masters with this horse which I produce on my own. Growing with him from riding one metre to 1.6 metres is just fantastic.”
Another Hong Kong rider, Clarissa Lyra, finished 16th with Catokia in the earlier 1.45-metre master one event and did not take part in the grand prix. After making her debut this week, the 21-year-old now knows how much she has to learn.
“The outcome was not ideal but I came here with the goal of learning as this is a very high level event,” said the 2017 China National Games bronze medallist. “My goal is to learn from my mistakes and try to improve each day.
“It was extremely challenging for me and my horse. We won a bronze medal in Tianjin and then we had to stay in the United States for three months for quarantine reasons after leaving China. We only got back to Europe one month ago and did one show before coming to Hong Kong.”
The youngster also hopes to make it to the Asian Games this summer as one of the four members of a Hong Kong team which would be announced shortly.
The final day of competition belonged to Patrice Delaveau and his 13-year-old gelding Aquila HDC, with the Frenchman continuing his love affair with the Hong Kong Masters with another success at the AsiaWorld Expo.
The 53-year-old veteran clinched the jackpot of US$380,200 with a strong piece of riding to deliver two clear rounds in the 1.6-metre event.
He registered the fastest time of 37.81 seconds in the jump off, winding back the clock to 2013 when he won four out of the six events.
Max Kuhner of Austria was just 0.07 seconds behind in the jump off aboard Cielito Lindo 2 and had to settle for second place, while third place went to Daniel Deusser of Germany in 37.96 seconds.
The top five finishers all carded two clear rounds and were divided only by the finishing time.