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Central Ontario Prince Philip Games: Meet #1

The Central Ontario Pony Club Region Prince Philip games season kicks off this Sunday, May 15, with a meet hosted by the Uxbridge-Scugog Pony Club at Durward Farm, north of Port Perry. In total, about 120 players from the Arête de Chêne, Baltimore Hills, Durham, Maple, Northwoods, Oshawa, Pine Ridge, Simcoe, Temiskaming, Toronto & North York, Uxbridge-Scugog, Victoria, and Waussnodae Pony Clubs will take part.

The Prince Philip Cup games are a team competition played by Pony Clubs around the world. The games are played by teams of five riders and five ponies, four of which take part in each game. All of the games are variations on the relay race, and all are great fun for players and spectators alike. Many of the games require the riders and ponies to run a slalom course around a series of poles from one end of the playing field to the other, where they hand-off something - an egg on a spoon is one of the tougher ones, and some of the players can carry it while riding at full speed - to the next rider on their team. In some races, riders have to vault off of and onto their ponies - in one, for example, the riders must dash towards a line of upturned buckets, dismount, run across the buckets leading their ponies, remount and head for the finish line; if you tip a bucket over you must reset it and start back at the first bucket again. Prince Philip Games are among the most photogenic and spectator-friendly of all equestrian competitions.

There are four levels of competition: C for beginners, B for more experienced riders, and A for the top players (riders must be under the age of 15 as of January 1st to play at these levels), plus competition at the Masters level, for those15 and over. C riders do not canter, and sometimes are accompanied by a leader; if the leader has to take the reins, then the pair must walk the rest of the race; otherwise, the leaders run alongside the ponies, trying to keep up.

There are two meets scheduled in the regular Central Ontario Region season, followed by Regional Finals for all divisions. The Regional A level winners go on to play for the Eastern Canadian Championship against teams from the Western Ontario and Saint Lawrence-Ottawa Valley Regions. The two top Eastern Canadian A level teams then play against Western Canadian representatives for the national championship. There is also a National Masters Championship. Dates and places for both national championships remain to be set.

Pony Club is the largest international equestrian organization in the world, with over 120,000 members. As well as Prince Philip Games, it offers competition in show jumping, dressage, a modified form of eventing (dressage plus cross-country jumping plus stadium jumping), tetrathlon - which combines swimming, shooting, running and cross-country jumping - and academic competition in quiz format. Above all the objective is to provide safe fun in riding-related sports.

Start time is 9:30 a.m. Spectators are welcome, with free admission. Durward Farm is just northeast of Sonya on Zion Road.

For more details e-mail Bob Inglis, Central Ontario Regional Communications Chair, or call him at 416-493-1223 (office) or 416-491-4230 (home).