In line with the mission of Equestrian Philippines, Inc. (Equestrian PH) to cultivate a rising crop of internationally competitive Filipino riders, JFJC Equestrian Training Services will be fielding a team of up and coming riders to this year’s inaugural Equestrian Philippines Riders Tour, a showjumping competition which will feature a Nations’ Cup (team competition) between Philippine and Malaysian Teams to be held at the Manila Polo Club on Sunday (September 29, 2019).
Coached by SEA Games medalist and national team veteran Joker Arroyo, the team composed of Minxie Romualdez, Alex Villalon, Mohamed El Akkad, Nicole Camcam, Lara Zobel, and Paola Lorenzo, will each jump at a different level against a counterpart Malaysian competitor.
To remove any advantage in this borrowed horse competition, the Philippine riders will not be riding their own horses, but will swap for other local mounts, and lending their horses to the visiting Malaysian team.
In describing the team, Arroyo says, “This is an exciting team, full of fresh, new talents, who I hope we will see on senior Philippine teams in the future.” She continues, “Each one of them is hardworking, determined, and competitive—constantly in pursuit of improvement and progress.”
According to Arroyo, the competition format at this event is unfamiliar to this team, and will be the first time that most of these riders will compete on horses that are not their own. “This, of course, adds a further element of difficulty to the competition, but I am confident that they will rise to the challenge,” she says optimistically.
The 11-year-old Romualdez will see action in the 65 cm category, a height level where she has consistently been in the medals in local competitions aboard her 10-year-old grey Irish pony, Magic Mio. She has been riding since the age of six and has competed up to the 85 cm level. She has also dabbled in polo, practicing with her older brothers in Switzerland and Australia.
Villalon, a 17-year-old student at the International School Manila, will compete in the 75 cm category. She competes up to the 100 cm level with her 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding Un Chti du Banney, better known as Clifford. She has been riding since the age of 5 and divides her time between two sports, equestrian and football, for which she is a member of the Philippine Youth Football League Beach Hut FC and the ISM varsity football teams.
El Akkad, a Manila based Egyptian expatriate, and the team guest rider, started riding at the age of 18, has competed in his native Egypt, Germany, and now the Philippines with the 13-year-old bay gelding, Cooper. Currently riding in the 90 cm category, El Akkad hopes to continue raising the bar until he is able to compete at the 130 cm to 140 cm level.
Based partially in the United States for her equestrian pursuits, 14-year-old Camcam will compete in the 100 cm category. She is the reigning Manila Polo Club Junior Jumping Rider of the Year and Junior Dressage Rider of the Year on her horses Con Amber, Aralea T, and Lobelia. Off the Philippine show season, Camcam trains and competes her 8-year-old grey mare Red Diamond in Florida, North Carolina, and New York under the tutelage of Philippine national team member and top trainer Colin Syquia.
In the 110 cm category, Zobel, who competes up to the 130 cm to 135 cm level, will be riding for the Philippines. She maintains several horses at home and also in France with trainer Thibault Trassard, and competes individually in international level competitions there, with a spectacular 3rd place finish recently at the 130 cm grand prix in La Motte on her 10-year-old Selle Francais, Versicolore, and a 1st place finish in the 120 cm class at CSI Am Sainte Cecile.
Finally, Lorenzo, the current Manila Polo Club Jumping Rider of the Year, will fly the flag for the Philippines in the highest level, the 120 cm category. She is one of the most successful local riders with her 14-year-old Selle Francais gelding Rubis Landais, and has also represented the Philippines at the Hong Kong— CSI Juniors in 2018, placing 3rd, and at the Asian Equestrian Federation 3rd Junior Championships in 2018. Lorenzo is a Management Engineering student at the Ateneo de Manila University. This season, she will see action with her newly arrived 7-year-old bay KWPN mare, Happy Cooper.
The Riders Tour has been organized by Equestrian PH “to give our developing pool of riders a chance to experience riding as a team against another country, a completely different experience from riding individually in local competitions, which is what most of them are used to,” according to the organization’s president, Carissa Coscolluela.
The Equestrian PH Riders Tour is sponsored by Aruga by Rockwell, Metro Society, Ramen Nagi, SSI Group, Inc., Metro.Style, Metro Channel, Churreria La Lola, and Wendy’s, and is supported by the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Red Cross.