A classy cross country round from Mathew Grayling saw the Taranaki dairy farmer retain his overnight lead in the eventing at the 2014 NRM Horse of the Year Show in Hastings today (Saturday).
The 50-year-old former Olympian was clear and only slightly over the time allowed, which saw him add six penalty points to his dressage score to finish the day on 52.8.
Close behind him is Clarke Johnstone (Waikato) aboard Balmoral Sensation who sit on 53.5. The 2010 World Championship team bronze medallist was also clear, but added just 2.8 penalty points to his dressage score.
Samantha Felton (Waikato) flew up the leaderboard on Ricker Ridge Pico Boo after adding nothing to her tally, with Joe Waldron (Te Awamutu) and Springvale All Black also remaining on their dressage score of 54.9.
Felton has a strangle hold on the NZ Horse and Pony Magazine CIC2*, leading the charge with Henton After Dark on 42.8 penalty points and sitting in second on Ricker Ridge Escada with another perfect round on 48.3 penalty points.
Sir Mark Todd and Drakkar (owned by Kate Woods) are third going clear and inside time to also remain on their dressage score of 48.6.
Todd likened the buzz of having 19,000-plus spectators to riding at the London Olympic Games.
“The crowd are just amazing,” he said.
The John Nicholson designed course took the record field right around the showgrounds, through the Land Rover marquee and into the premier arena, and the picturesque Waikoko Lake.
A triple combination that started with a jump on top of a small hill, with a tight turn onto a big corner jump, caused plenty of problems but otherwise the course the appeared to ride well.
Nicholson – brother of world number one eventer Andrew – said it he had built to entertain the masses, while ensuring the safety of horses and riders.
His team – Mark McCauley, Chris Leaver and Donna Harley – had worked hard to create a stunning course, and the riders had done him proud.,
“They looked after me,” he said. “It was a different competition to what they would usually do, and built for entertainment to promote the sport of eventing.”
HOY show director Kevin Hansen was rapt too.
“I am absolutely thrilled! The cross country is here (at the showgrounds) to stay,” said Hansen. “And we plan to improve it
He was chuffed with the support he had received from his course designer and board, who had believed he would successfully run the cross country at the showgrounds.
And he also praised the efforts of the 185 volunteers who had ensured the safety of all around the grounds.
The final phase – the showjumping – is run tomorrow morning.
NZ Horse and Pony Magazine CIC2* (after dressage and cross country phases): Samantha Felton (Waikato) Henton After Dark 42.8 penalty points 1, Samantha Felton (Waikato) Ricker Ridge Escada 48.3 2, Sir Mark Todd (UK) Drakkar (owned by Kate Woods) 48..6 3, Madison Crowe (Rangiora) Brogan 48.8 4, Kylie Snow (Auckland) Folk Law 52.8 5.
CIC3*: Mathew Grayling (Taranaki) NRM Lowenberg 52.8 penalty points 1, Clarke Johnstone (Cambridge) Balmoral Sensation 53.5 2, Samantha Felton (Waikato) Ricker Ridge Pico Boo 54.3 3, Joe Waldron (Te Awamutu) Springvale All Black 54.9 4, Simon Gordon (Auckland) Fletch.com 55.6 5.