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Central Ontario Prince Philip Games Finals This Sunday

The Central Ontario Pony Club Region Prince Philip games season continues this coming Sunday, July 4, with the Regional Finals at Cruikshanks Farm, near Cannington.

"PPG" is a team competition played by Pony Clubs around the world. All of the games are variations on the relay race. Many of the games require the riders and ponies to run a slalom course from one end of the playing field to the other, where they hand off something to the next rider on their team - an egg on a spoon is one of the tougher ones, and some players can carry it while riding at top speed. In some races, the riders have to vault off of and onto their ponies. In one, for example, the riders must dash towards the halfway line of the field, dismount, jump into a sack and hop for the finish line, leading their ponies. Prince Philip Games are among the most photogenic of all equestrian competitions, great fun for players and spectators alike.

There are four levels of competition: C for beginners, B for more experienced players, and A for the top riders. Riders must be under the age of 15 as of January 1st to play at these three levels. The fourth level is Masters, for those 15 and over. Play gets progressively faster in the higher divisions.

There were two meets in the regular Central Ontario season, followed by Regional Finals for all divisions. After the first two meets, competition is close in all four divisions. Points accumulate over the full season, so several teams have a chance to win their division this weekend. 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 Canada representatives for the national championship, to be held in the Western Ontario Region on Labour Day weekend this year. There is also a national Masters championship, to be hosted by the British Columbia Lower Mainland Region in August.

The best A players get to try out for next year's Team Canada, which competes against rivals from all over the world. This year's international championship is in Britain, also in August. 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, rallies (dressage plus cross-country jumping plus stadium jumping, but also marks for stable management and turn-out), 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 free of charge. Cruikshanks Farm is at C1725, 14th Concession of Brock.

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).