Horse-riding Thai princess ‘goes for it’ at Asian Games

Royalty graced the Asian Games on Tuesday with Thai Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana saddling up in the equestrian after being encouraged by the king to “go for it”.

The 36-year-old, who competed at the 2006 Games in badminton, is part of Thailand’s dressage contingent, riding in the team and individual competitions in Hangzhou.

“I will do my best for (the people of Thailand),” she said at the Tonglu Equestrian Centre.

“They’re my cheerleaders, my power, my fuel. I play for the Thai people.”

The princess, the only daughter of King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his former wife Sujarinee Vivacharawongse, is at her third Asian Games.

As well as badminton in 2006, she also rode in the 2014 Games in South Korea.

“Luckily our father is supporting us. He has always said, ‘Go for it! You want to do it? Do it,'” said the princess, who learned to ride aged nine and trained in France.

“He knows that what drives my heart is horses and badminton. Since my grandfather’s time, the royal family has always competed in sports.”

She is the latest in a line of royals to compete in top-level equestrianism — Britain’s Zara Phillips was a 2012 Olympics silver medallist.

Away from the sporting domain, Sirivannavari is a keen fashion designer and has had shows at Paris Fashion Week.

She cited her sister as inspiration for being in China.

“I do it for my sister. My sister is a horse-lover and a show-jumper and she wants to be on the national team, but she cannot make it,” she said.

“So she gave everything to me: all the information, all of her strategy, all of the equipment.”

Her elder sister, Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol, was hospitalised late last year for heart, lung and kidney issues. — Agence France-Presse

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