This year the Thailand Equestrian Federation is making history as the host of Asia’s first equestrian championship with Thai riders, led by HRH Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Rajakanya, as part of the FEI Asian Championships Pattaya 2019. The event runs from 1-8 December at Thai Polo & Equestrian Club in Pattaya.
The Princess will also compete in the championship, as she is leading Thai riders to compete with international riders from more than a dozen countries, on nearly a hundred horses, across three Olympic disciplines; dressage, jumping and eventing.
Sometimes described as an equestrian triathlon, eventing is the most complete combined competition discipline recognised by the FEI. Modern competitions consist of three distinct tests: Dressage, Cross-Country and Jumping. They take place on separate consecutive days during which a competitor rides the same horse throughout.
In all, more than 5,000 participants, including riders and their families, trainers, referees of international recognition, staff and related personnel, are expected to join the event. The competition is also set to draw more than 10,000 spectators from all over the world, giving a boost to quality tourism in Pattaya. At the conclusion of the competitions, seven medals will be awarded to the various winners.
“As the representative of FEI, I have confidence in the potential of Thai Polo & Equestrian Club and the hosting of the FEI Asian Championships Pattaya 2019,” remarked Mr. Ingmar De Vos, president of Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). “Throughout the championship, riders from 15 Asian countries will be in Thailand to show their skills and determination. More than anything, I am honoured that I will get to witness the graceful performance of HRH Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Rajakanya in the dressage discipline. For any rider, participating in this championship is considered very prestigious.”
Equestrian in Asia has recently seen a rise in popularity, and in Thailand alone the sport has grown 83 percent. Equestrian activities first became popular in Thailand in 1976, and a club was founded by General Krit Punnakan at Royal Palace Guard Cavalry Division (in Sanam Pao) then called the Thailand Amateur Equestrian Association.
In 1977, the association became a member of the National Olympic Committee of Thailand and in 1993 changed its name to the Thailand Equestrian Federation. In 1994 the federation sent riders to participate in the 12th Asian Games in Hisroshima, Japan, and won a bronze medal. In 1996, the Thai national team won gold, silver and bronze in the following edition of the Asian Games in Saraburi Province. In 2014, HRH Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Rajakanya represented Thailand, alongside Chalermchan Yosviriyapanich, Pakinee Panthanwa, and Rawissara Vechakorn, in the dressage discipline in Incheon, South Korea.
The setting for this year’s upcoming equine spectacle is, of course, the Thai Polo & Equestrian Club, which is set in more than 2,000 rai of picturesque grounds to the east of Pattaya. Boasting three full-sized, international-standard polo playing fields, as well as two practice grounds, and stabling for more than 250 horses, the club opened in 2005 (then simply called the Thai Polo Club). The brainchild of polo enthusiasts Dr. Harald Link (president of the South-East Asian Equestrian Federation and the Thailand Equestrian Federation, and chairman of B.Grimm) and Mrs. Nunthinee Tanner (considered the first female polo player in Thailand), the Thai Polo & Equestrian Club has grown in size and stature in recent years, as has the number of equestrian enthusiasts.
“FEI Asian Championships Pattaya 2019 will not only secure Thailand as a world-class equestrian destination, elevate the standards of Thai equestrian to an international level and showcase world-class event organization, but also presents a great opportunity for riders to gain more experience, prove themselves to the world and prepare for the 2020 Olympics,” said Dr. Link, commenting on his role as the host of this highly anticipated event. “This championship will have a historic number of participating riders, compared to the number of riders competing in the Asian Games. After two years of preparation, we are ready!”
The FEI Asian Championships Pattaya 2019 is free and open to the public. For more information, and a full schedule of events, visit: acpattaya2019.com