In an unprecedented show of strength and skill, members of Team Davao of the Davao Horse Club clearly dominated both the English and Western events in the just-concluded Governor’s Cup 2008 Cebu Horse Show & Competition held in Mandaue City, February 15-17, 2008. In so doing, Davao clinched the coveted Governor’s Cup as overall Champion, trouncing teams from Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Impasugong and Malaybalay of Bukidnon, Ormoc, Dumaguete and Bohol. The huge trophy was presented by the Governor of the Province of Cebu herself, the Hon.Gwen Garcia, in a Hollywood-style Awards Night at the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC). The Cebu Horse Show & Competition signaled the start of a new season in the Philippine Horsemen’s Federation competition circuit.
Jose Salvador “Pete” Batu, President of the Davao Horse Club and his wife, Esperanza, led the power-packed Davao delegation consisting of nine riders, their families and other members of the Club. The whole event itself was unprecedented in its pomp and pageantry, evidently the result of full support given by the Provincial Government of Cebu and the local government of Mandaue City to the organizers, the Cebu Equine Owners and Breeders Sportsmen’s Association (CEOBSA). In the opening ceremony, Governor Garcia, the first woman governor of Cebu, led the parade on horseback from CICC to Mandaue City’s reclamation area, venue of the competition, with members of the various participating clubs following her on their steeds. Calesas, still very much in use in Cebu City’s downtown area, came in colorful Spanish era embellishments while drum and bugle corps marched along in cadence. At the venue’s grandstand, dancers in fabulous Filipiniana costumes opened the program in lavish style.
The Awards Night held at the foyer of the CICC was no less spectacular. Before the overflowing buffet dinner table was opened, Cebu’s best classical singers began the evening’s program with an Italian prayer in song and followed it up with favorite Broadway hits. Male dancers in an American-Indian themed number preceded the dramatic entrance from a wigwam on stage by the lovely lady governor in long gown with matching Indian design, carrying the tall Governor’s Cup. One of Cebu’s top bands provided excellent dance music for all.
The gutsy horsemen from the Visayas and Mindanao deserved all that, it seemed. The rain-soaked competition grounds proved to be a risky challenge for them, contending with sticky mud and dangerous mud pits in the 2-day event. Immediately on the first day, Davao showed its dominance in the sport by capturing first places in Show Jumping and Barrel Race. Kobi Troy Tan, 2-time Rider of the Year in Youth Division (2006 & 2007) and now elevated to the Expert Divison, led the Davao winners on board his Anglo-Arab grey mare Star Nile by capturing three first places, repeating the feat of his father, Andrew, last year and teammate George Walter Misa in 2006.
Taking home a total of 14 individual awards, Davao’s trophy harvest consisted of the following: First Place finish: Show Jumping, Category B, Kobi Troy Tan; Show Jumping for Cause (Operation Smile), George Walter Misa; Barrel Race, Expert Division, Class A, Kobi Troy Tan; Auxiliary Division, Ronaldo Gonzaga from GWM Stables; Obstacle Race, Class A, Kobi Troy Tan and Royal Division, Dean Gonzales. Second Place finish: Show Jumping, Category A, George Walter Misa; Category B, Miko Gonzales; Barrel Race, Class B, Martin Ledesma; Youth, Nikki Boy Gonzales. Third Place finish: Barrel Race, Class A, George Walter Misa; Royal Division, Dean Gonzales; Obstacle Race, Class B, Martin Ledesma; Oval Race, Big Shot.
The final day of competition, when the tricky Obstacle Race was held, spills and falls (and swimming in mud for rider and horse) was par for the course. Team Davao lost two first place positions this way, as their horses, at top speed, tripped and tumbled in the ever-deepening mud on the way to the finish line. Despite the heartbreaking losses, however, the Team made it to the top of the heap. And in the glittery Awards Night, it was Davao’s time to shine once again. As the name of the winner of the Governor’s Cup was announced with fanfare, a loud cheer thundered across the hall and fireworks lit up the night sky. gwm