On February 10, 2018, an equestrian dream became a reality at the AsiaWorld-Expo in Hong Kong. Asia Horse Week concluded on a high note, an impressive panel of esteemed dignitaries from the international equestrian world celebrated the historic occasion and looked back on the knowledge that had been shared during the summit, the first of its kind in the region.
“We want to create an annual rendezvous for the international equestrian players to bridge the knowledge, interests and know how between Asia and the rest of the world; an event where ultimately the entire equestrian culture and all horse-related professions and sports are represented,” explained Mr Christophe Ameeuw, CEO of EEM, Owner, Founder and Organizer of the Asia Horse Week and the Longines Masters Series Paris – Hong Kong – New York.
The Asia Horse Week received strong backing in the region, through its Founding Partner the Hong Kong Jockey Club, it was conceived to promote the exchange of equine expertise, and raise the profile and standard of the industry in the region and across the globe.
Nearly 200 hundred equestrian experts attended the forum and it was broadcast and translated live on social media and EEM TV, with many big media outlets present as well. Held in alongside the Longines Masters of Hong Kong, the summit has already rightly earned its place on the calendar assuring it will be a staple international equestrian stage for many years to come.
The Chairman of the Asia Horse Week, Mr. Raphael Le Masne de Chermont, kicked off the proceedings, saying there could be no backdrop more suitable than Hong Kong for such a rendezvous, being one of the most active racing cities in the world with a long equine legacy. “The Asia Horse Week will be a one-stop international platform. It will be a place to learn, entertain and exchange about equestrian matters,” he said.
Dr. Simon Ip, the Chairman of The Hong Kong Jockey Club, also echoed the same sentiment, calling the conference, “an ideal forum for sharing knowledge.” He said he is confident it will become the start of a regular and ongoing equestrian dialogue across the world.
25 countries represented through 18 equestrian federations and riders plus more than 60 key equestrian delegates came together to share information and discuss a diverse array of topics.
As well as sessions exploring China's burgeoning equestrian scene and Hong Kong's growing role as an equestrian hub, Asia Horse Week also featured international speakers who addressed biosecurity concerns, spoke about horse welfare, equine transportation, horsemanship and the journey that lies ahead on the road to 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
In one of the early sessions, British and German equestrian learning systems were shared by the Chief Executive of the British Horse Society, Mrs. Lynn Petersen, who concluded her talk by referring to the “Two Hearts” campaign from the FEI which describes the equestrian spirit as the heart of horse and the heart of rider working in harmony. Good horsemanship and the welfare of the horses were a recurring theme of the summit, which was repeated by speakers from France, Germany and the Netherlands.
China’s equestrian development was of course put in the spotlight as China’s impressive growth confirms that the region is the future of equestrianism. A consultant to the Hong Kong equestrian team, Mr. Ludger Beerbaum said China needs to set up a better competition structure and make the sport more accessible. As a key equestrian face in China who has competed in two Olympic Games, the renowned rider Alex Hua Tian said he wants to spread awareness across the country, but he said the process should not be rushed, much like his Olympic training.
“In this region the growth is so fast and so strong that I hope federations will be more focused on a long-term strategy and invest in the future, especially in China,” he commented. He also shared his unique and ambitious grass-root programme to give children in China the opportunity to learn about the values of horsemanship.
Other notable specialists agreed on the patient approach and added their insight into how to China can best cultivate equestrianism. As a representative from the FFE in China, Mr. Camille Martin said it is not a matter of simply copying and pasting the system from France to China, but more about adapting it to fit the market to make sure it benefits the industry.
This point about cultural assimilation was reinforced by Mrs. Daisy Chi, who founded the Beijing Asgard Equestrian Club in 2006. As someone keen to develop the industry in China, she explained how her club is incorporating certain elements of French equestrian culture. Another key figure in the China equestrian scene, Mr. Gerald Kuh, Consultant for Equuleus International Riding Club, had the same viewpoint and added that every system has its merits and it is not necessarily a competition between China and the rest of the world, but more of a collaborative effort.
The Head of Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Quarantine Department, Dr. Brian Stewart, gave an enlightening talk on the logistical procedures behind horse transportation with a review of his club’s new Conghua Training Centre in Guangzhou, which will officially open in August 2018. As part of China’s Belt & Road Initiative, the Hong Kong SAR and Chinese Mainland authorities signed four memoranda in December 2017 to create a special biosecurity zone in the Conghua District, which is the only internationally-recognized Equine Disease-Free Zone in the Chinese Mainland.
“We needed to create systems, build liaisons with government authorities, and make something that was not possible before, happen,” Dr. Brian Stewart commented. Defining it as a quarantined training ground, he raised the importance of education and biosecurity. He added that although there is not a wide awareness of the importance of biosecurity in China, they should be able to develop this. “Where there is a will, there is a way,” he summarized. FEI President Ingmar Devos later expanded on this and revealed that China has identified equestrian sport as one of the ten core sports which the government wants to invest in.
A number of leading authorities from the Japanese equestrian world were present for the summit also and, in a moving moment, the advisor to the Japan Equestrian Federation, Dr. Yasuhiko Haruta appeared on stage with the Hong Kong Equestrian Federation President, Mr. Michael Lee. Mr. Michael Lee passed the baton onto Japan and praised them for securing the 2020 Olympic Games.
The only official FEI international judge in Asia, Mr. Kazuya Hirayama later talked about the standing of the judging system in Asia. A riding club owner, Kazu Iwatani, took the stage later to talk about Japan’s development of the equestrian industry.
The rising Asian equine industry was also put in focus, with Cambodia, India, Taipei, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia offering insight on their developments, progress and innovations. The CSI SEA League World Cup was shown to be a highly esteemed event in Asia. Taiwan was shown to have 2,000 horses in the country, with Thailand having more than 1,500. The riding facilities for this year’s Asian Games in Jakarta were also introduced.
The inaugural edition of the Asia Horse Week came to a successful close with FEI President Ingmar DeVos taking the stage alongside Mr. Michael Lee, President of HKEF as well as the Chairman of Asia Horse Week Mr. Raphael Le Masne de Chermont and the CEO of EEM and Founder of the Asia Horse Week, Mr. Christophe Ameeuw.
Ingmar DeVos expounded on triumphs of the industry in Asia and explained that the infrastructure is flourishing along with the level of expertise and enthusiasm, and everyone has a duty to preserve and maintain this momentum.
“Foreign established professionals are turning their attention to this region and the commitment to build the foundation is clearly present in the equestrian community here,” he said, adding that China is an impressive example of this development. “Few realize that this is the second-largest horse population in the world. There are currently 400,000 active equestrians in China. The economic impact of equestrian sports in China is USD$1.5 billion. He ended by saying the future of the sport is bright in Asia. “The level of expertise and the caliber of the participants attending this first Asia Horse Week shows there is a real enthusiasm for all things equestrian in the APEC region - this is because there is huge potential and Asia is the new equestrian frontier,” he concluded.
Christophe Ameeuw concluded, “This is a dream come true. The result of today’s competitions with a Chinese rider making it to the podium here in Hong Kong alongside the best riders in the world confirms the current trend highlighted over the past days. And it is only the beginning of the story.”
The Asia Horse Week is set to come back to Hong Kong on 14-17 February 2019. Expect an even more impressive line-up of international and regional equestrian experts & professionals converging to Hong Kong.
For the official program, press kit, press release, and photo library, go on the Newsroom of the Asia Horse Week: HERE
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With a passion for equestrian sports, Christophe Ameeuw - Founder and CEO of EEM - created the Ecuries d'Ecaussinnes in 1997. Based in Belgium, the stables today enjoy an international reputation for the trade of sport horses, high-end breeding, and an academy giving access to the best in equestrian training. The organization, as well as the reinvention of show jumping competitions is the challenge that Christophe Ameeuw and his team have set for themselves. EEM headquarters are located in the heart of Ecaussinnes Stables, where the team continues its quest to develop equestrian sports further. Inspired by the Grand Slam of tennis, EEM brings together under one roof the best of show jumping, entertainment and lifestyle experience. After the successes of the Audi Masters in Brussels, and the Gucci Masters in Paris, EEM has set out to conquer new continents and has since developed the Longines Masters Series internationally.
This “Grand Slam of Indoor Show Jumping” spanning over three continents in Paris, Hong Kong and New York, is one of the most prestigious equestrian events in the world.
In 2017, EEM created a new iconic competition, the Riders Masters Cup. Offered to the public alongside the EEF (European Equestrian Federation) and alternating between Europe and the United States, this battle will pit the world's two leading powers in show jumping against one another: Europe and the United States. On the Asian continent, “Asia Horse Week”, rallying point for the international sporting community there, also serves as a prime setting for the Longines Masters of Hong Kong, illustrating EEM's determination to develop the sport's international arms in the Asia-Pacific Region. For more information, visit www.eemworld.com.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club
Founded in 1884, The Hong Kong Jockey Club is a world-class racing club that acts continuously for the betterment of our society. The Club has a unique integrated business model, comprising racing and racecourse entertainment, a membership club, responsible sports wagering and lottery, and charities and community contribution. Through this model, the Club generates economic and social value for the community and supports the Government in combatting illegal gambling. In 2016/17, the Club’s total direct return to the community was HK$30.5 billion. It is Hong Kong's largest single taxpayer, one of the city’s major employers and one of the world's top ten charity donors. The Club is always "riding high together for a better future" with the people of Hong Kong. Please visit www.hkjc.com.