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[RC] Malaysia Story - Part III - Steph Teeter

Preparing for the Sultans Cup - the Test -

During the year leading up to the 2007 Sultan's Cup there would be more events - and new events - held in Malaysia, and with each event came the question 'how will this help us prepare for the WEC - and the Sultan's Cup?'. The Royal Kedah International (http:// www.endurance.net/international/2007Kedahinvitational/ )was a new ride, in the northern sultanate of Kedah - a celebration of the Sultan's 80th birthday. A gala event, with invitations handed out to all of the riders who attended the 2006 Sultan's Cup. So there would be foreign riders, and there would also be a bit of a test regarding horses, shipping and acclimation. Peter Toft was to import several horses into Malaysia 3 weeks before the event. The horses were already purchased by Malaysian riders - they would stay in Malaysia, but the test would be to observe how well they ran with only 3 weeks time in the country. The result was mixed. The horses spent most of their 'acclimation' period travelling - into Malaysia, to Ar Raudah, then north to Qedah. Two of the horses finished the 120km (though at a slow pace) in excellent form, two rider options (horses weren't eating well - weren't happy), one lameness and one metabolic (colic). In addition to the horse test, was a timing test - a new system using the swipe card (bar code) technology. Edaran Digital Systems, Tansri Tajudin's company, was the host - the OC - for this event. They did all the arrangements, FEI officials, etc - and they also tested a timing system that they were developing. It worked fairly well, though there were some rider/official/communication issues, and a few glitches in out times.

There were additional events held in Terengganu as well - to fine tune the venue and trail. In May the YDSM-PENN ride was held (http:// www.endurance.net/international/malaysia/YDSM_PENN/ ) - another test of the venue, and a first opportunity for the new show director to see what Endurance was all about. Earlier this year the OC hired Azrin Zudhi to be the 2008 WEC (and 2007 Sultans Cup) show director. Azrin is a Malay woman married to a German national, educated in London, with ten years experience in England in the world of business and finance. Also an equestrienne - from the world of dressage and jumping. She came back to Malaysia to live and start a new career, and through contacts and associates - and having the right skills for the job - was eventually hired as the show director of the 2006 FEI World Cup Jumping Final. She learned about importing horses, about coordinating an equestrian event - and about building a team of dependable, hard-working people. Many of these people also signed on to help her with the Endurance event.. yet another huge challenge.

Azrin was hired in time to attend the FEI World Forum in Paris (March) where she started meeting the people - the players - and learning about the FEI, and the intensity of our sport. Her first real dive into Endurance was the YDSM-PENN event. She came as an observer, along with a few of her World Cup team members. An eye opener I'm sure! There's nothing neat and tidy about Endurance - and it goes on and on and through the night - and the complications of the sport are quite a logistical challenge.

This event was also to be a test of another bar code (swipe card) timing system - one that was developed for Al Wathba stables and the Emirates International Endurance Village (Abu Dhabi). The technicians and developers came (Tony and Charbel) with software and bare bones equipment, the rest was purchased for the event and would remain in Terengganu. The system worked very well, definitely a successful test.

The next event - Edaran Endurance Classic 2007 'Menuju WEC 2008' (towards WEC 2008) was scheduled for July and it would also be held in Terengganu. Another test of the trail and the venue. This race would see the fastest 160km finish time ever achieved in Malaysia - 10:45, 14.3 km/hr.

And during the entire season, the OC (with a new chair, Dato Salleh and new 'show' direcor Azrin Zhudi) would be in full gear. They would be closely involved in each Malaysian event, observing foreign events (they travelled to Compiegne France, and Idaho USA to observe championship level events) and putting the Sultans Cup event together.

The purpose of the Sultans Cup as a test was to bring in foreign riders AND foreign horses, simulate the shipping, quarantine, stabling and competition environment to be expected at a WEC, and see if top horses and riders could safely compete. The FEI permitted the OC to invite riders of their choosing. Given the importance of the results (less then 40% completion would nix the WEC in Malaysia) the OC wanted the ability to invite horses and riders with proven records, and riders who they felt were committed to a fair trial. There were some who were strongly - and vocally - opposed to holding a WEC in Malaysia. And there were some who felt that Malaysia would be a true endurance challenge - a technical challenge - and very much in keeping with the spirit of the sport. The choice of who to invite would be up to the OC - not the individual Federations. And the 40% completion criteria would apply only to invited foreign riders. Others (locals or special invitations) could compete as well - but the test was for the importation of foreign horses.

- more later, the ride-



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