August 1, 2008 -- The Hong Kong Equestrian Federation (HKEF) in conjunction with the Hong Kong Jockey Club and ING Corporation, hosted an extraordinary hand-over ceremony July 10 in Hong Kong to receive two ponies the American Shetland Pony Club (ASPC) donated to salute Hong Kong's efforts in hosting the 2008 Equestrian Olympics.
ASPC Marketing Director Johnny Robb was on hand to make a speech at the ceremony and to answer questions for the media. ASPC Director of Operations Zona Schneider was also honored at the ceremony.
"We thought it would be wonderful if the American Shetland Pony Club could pay tribute to Hong Kong with a gift of two of our American Shetland Ponies," said Robb at the hand-over ceremony. "I know these two American Shetland ponies will be good ambassadors of the breed here in Hong Kong, and I am confident that they will bring many young riders a great deal of joy for years to come."
The ponies arrived safely in Hong Kong on June 6. After being in quarantine for two weeks they were stabled in the beautiful facility where the Olympic eventing competitions will be held. The "tiny ambassadors" won the hearts of Hong Kong upon arrival.
The media ceremony was well attended. During the event, the HKEF in conjunction with the HKJC also announced a "Name the Shetland Ponies Contest" to honor the new arrivals with Chinese names. The first 300 entries will receive tickets to the Equestrian Olympics and the two lucky winners will also receive a riding lesson package.
Simon Ip, president of the HKEF, was delighted with the response the ponies created in Hong Kong. "These beautiful ponies will be stabled in public riding schools so that they can be enjoyed by all members of the Hong Kong public," Ip said in his opening speech. "On behalf of the Hong Kong Equestrian Federation, I would like to thank the American Shetland Pony Club for their generosity and kindness in giving us this magnificent pair of Shetland ponies."
Robb and Schneider were treated to a week of festivities surrounding the induction of the ponies. They toured five of Hong Kong's riding schools, visited the Olympic competition sites and the equestrian Olympic exhibit on loan at the HKJC Racing Museum.
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