Sport Weekend Extravaganza
Trip Start May 11, 2003
19Trip End May 10, 2004
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Sun 5th Oct - Up early in order to get good seats at the fourth and final day of the "KL Grand Prix" International Show Jumping
Arrive at 9.30am and choose our seats from the thousands of unoccupied ones. Watch the arena being set up for the first event, which is the Young Riders Final. We are really impressed by the organization of the whole event and the standard of the riders, who mainly come from South East Asia and Europe. Next up is the Senior Competition which involves British legends, John and Michael Whitaker and Geoff Billington and Europe's elite from Germany, Netherlands and Sweden. Between them they have won numerous Olympic medals and currently hold most of the top ten world rankings. Unfortunately Geoff Billington takes a nasty fall into one of the fences early on, but walks away okay. There are a lot of clear rounds, so there is jump off against the clock, which is really exciting, nerve racking and won by the current World number 1.
In between events, the organizers put on various horse-related entertainment to keep us amused. Two teams of Malaysian pony-riders play a game of fast-moving horse ball, which is similar to basketball on ponies. Then we are treated to a pony race, where the riders gallop frantically round the arena, loving every minute of it! By far the best is the gymnastic display on the young horse, trained only three days previously by the Algerian trainer
After lunch we catch the second half of the Team Trophy, where two riders times are added together to be placed against other teams. The last competition is for big bucks (or Malaysian Ringgit). This is where the standard of the Worlds top-class riders really shows through on a course designed to be physically and mentally challenging to both horse and rider. The event is watched by none other than Dr M, the Malaysian PM, who retires at the end of October after twenty successful years of office. His grand entrance delays the event. There are ten clear rounds, so the jump off is even more exciting than the previous events. Despite our loud cheering, John Whitaker comes a very close second to the only Saudi Arabian rider, who ends his round with eyes closed as the horse is going so fast!! A long medal ceremony follows and the PM has a song sung to him by the crowd in appreciation.
Once back at the guesthouse, we go to a local Indian café and crash out whacked.