7 November 2010
By Sharifah Hunaini Syed Ismail
SETIU, Nov 7 (Bernama) -- Riding into its fifth edition this year, the Sultan's Cup Terengganu Endurance Challenge presents an ideal platform to boost the development of equestrian sports in the country.
Besides scouting for new talent among locals, it has placed Malaysian endurance riders on par with their international counterparts in a short period of time.
Admitting dissatisfaction with current achievements, Royal Terengganu Endurance Stable (RTES) general manager Che Mat Din said there were many plans to expand endurance riding and equestrian sports in the country.
Over the previous editions, he noted the endurance challenge had shown positive growth.
"In about five years, the RTES hopes the Sultan's Cup will produce as many riders as possible to compete at world level as winning world championships is not impossible," he said in an interview with Bernama at the Terengganu International Endurance Park (TIEP) in Lembah Bidong here recently.
The three-day 2010 Sultan's Cup Terengganu Endurance Challenge at the TIEP began on Nov 5.
Che Mat said equestrian sports had matured in the country over the past 10 years, with some new riders beginning to shine in the international arena.
"It is something to be proud of when some of our local riders qualify for the European circuit," he said, singling out three young RTES riders, namely Abdul Halim Alihan, Asri Abdul Aziz and Jeffree Zinuddin Mohammad Arif, who had stamped their mark internationally.
Abdul Halim, Asri and Jeffree qualified for the 2011 European Championship to be held in Florac, France. Jeffree is also winner of the 2009 Sultan's Cup Terrenganu Endurance Challenge.
For future editions, Che Mat said the Sultan's Cup planned to extend participation to junior and women riders.
As for Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, who is a high-profile participant in the sport, he expressed delight over the great interest shown in equestrian sports, in particular, endurance riding among the younger riders, and its positive development in the country, especially for the Sultan's Cup.
In his speech, he conveyed pride on the achievement of local riders who had shown impressive performances abroad, including the participation of the three riders in the 2011 European Championship.
He also hoped the media would give appropriate coverage for endurance riding to enable more people to understand and be attracted to the sport.
Meanwhile, Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said said the annual championship had boosted the development of endurance sports and increased awareness on equestrian sports among Malaysians.
The championship has also contributed towards making Terengganu the country's equestrian hub recognised by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).
The 2010 Sultan's Cup Terengganu Endurance Challenge is a race which consists of a 120km track with a fixed time period of 12 hours, which includes a holding time totalling 210 minutes at the first four vet gates.
The first phase is 30km, second (25km), third (20km), fourth (25km) and the fifth and final phase (20km).
Endurance riding was included as a discipline in the FEI since 1982, which is 24 years after the FEI was established.
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