Faris Haikal

Faris Haikal riding high

Riding a ‘borrowed’ horse was no obstacle for Malaysia’s Muhammad Faris Haikal Mohd Hassan Sa’ari.

The 19-year-old rider from Terengganu finished eighth at the Argentan International Endurance event in France last weekend to book his ticket to the FEI Junior and Young Riders Endurance World Championships in Pisa, San Rossore, Italy in September.

Three other Malaysians – Nur Qasrina Amani Zakaria, Muhammad Yusuf Luqman Zakaria and Muhammad Aimin Azfar Nazulki – narrowly missed out on qualifying but will have another chance to do so this weekend.

All four Team Malaysia riders – who are funded by Benua Equestrian Stables – have arrived at Jullianges, France where the latest qualifiers are being held.

Endurance riding is a competition to test the athlete’s ability to safely manage the stamina and fitness of the horse over a course in a competition against the track, distance, climate, terrain and clock.

To be successful, the rider must have knowledge of pace and the efficient and safe use of the horse.

The 120km competition consists of several phases or loops. To ensure the health of the horse is not jeopardised, no phase may exceed 40km and cannot be less than 16km although 20km is usually set as the minimum distance.

To qualify for the World Championship, the riders and horses must pass stringent fitness tests and this is why all four Malaysian riders are using ‘borrowed’ horses as they need ones which are comfortable with endurance racing.

The horses were sourced by former world No 1 equestrian rider Datuk Awang Kamaruddin Abdul Ghani.

“They have much potential and I don’t mind doing all I can to help them,” said Awang Kamaruddin, 74.

“I made some phone calls to my friends in Europe and they agreed to help the team.

He said it costs around RM130,000 for each leg of the qualifiers and it is the parents of the riders who are funding the team, even though our entry is listed as Team Malaysia.

“Hopefully, if all four riders qualify for the World Championship, we may be able to attract the attention of the Youth and Sports Ministry and other sponsors,” he added.