2010 World Games team bronze medalist Clarke Johnstone has had a sensational result at his first 3* start on his new ride Balmoral Sensation, winning the CIC3* class at the NRM Horse of the Year Show to earn the title Eventer of the Year.
Johnstone bought the horse from Donna Smith two months ago, and has been quietly building a relationship with the big moving strong minded warmblood in the lead up to this event.
Third after the dressage on a score of 50.7 penalties, Johnstone was last to go cross-country and had the benefit of riding Sam Taylor’s Leo Degas first, but the misty rain was making the ground slippery by the time they finished and they picked up 2.8 time penalties, but held their place.
Dressage leader Matthew Grayling added 6 time penalties to his dressage score of 46.8 penalties with NRM Lowenberg but held his lead, although the margin had become so tight that the top five horses were within 4 points of each other and could not afford to drop a single showjumping rail.. Last to go and needing a clear round to hold the lead, Grayling had the first fence down and added 4 time penalties to drop to fourth.
Defending title holder Simon Gordon on Fletch.com improved from eighth after 55.2 dressage penalties to finish runner-up after a fast cross-country round incurring 0.4 of a time penalty and showjumping clear but with 3 time penalties. Third place went to Joseph Waldron on Springvale All Black, improving from seventh with a dressage score of 54.9 with one of two cross-country rounds inside the time, and having one rail down in the showjumping.
Talent Development Squad member Samantha Felton, having her first 3* start, produced the other clear cross-country round on Ricker Ridge Pico Boo, improving from sixth after dressage with 54.3 penalties to third after cross-country, but had two showjumping rails down to finish fifth.
Twelve of the sixteen starters finished the event, with John Nicholson’s course receiving acclaim from both riders and spectators, and show director Kevin Hanson being lauded for bringing to reality his dream to run the cross-country phase of the eventing on the showgrounds, attracting a 19,000 crowd to watch it.
Felton quinellaed the NZ Horse & Pony CIC2* class, winning on Henton After Dark, who led after the dressage with 42.8 penalties, and added no further penalties from either jumping phase. She was second on Ricker Ridge Escada, who was also clear and inside the time on the cross-country, but had a showjumping rail down, improving from fourth after the dressage.
Sir Mark Todd, riding Kate Wood’s Drakkar, pulled up from sixth after the dressage with a clear cross-country round inside the time to be third going into the showjumping, and held that place despite a rail down, demonstrating his superb skills, having ridden the horse for the first time the day before the event.
Final Results NRM Horse of the Year Show Eventing:
CIC3*: Clarke Johnstone, Ngauruawahia, Balmoral Sensation, 53.5, 1; Simon Gordon, Karaka, Fletch.com, 58.6, 2; Joseph Waldron, Te Awamutu, Springvale All Black, 58.9, 3; Matthew Grayling, New Plymouth, NRM Lowenberg, 60.8, 4
NZ Horse & Pony CIC2*: Samantha Felton, Matangi, Henton After Dark, 42.8, 1; Felton, Ricker Ridge Escada, 52.3, 2; Sir Mark Todd, Wiltshire, UK, Drakkar, 52.6, 3; Dannie Lodder, Papakura, 53.1, 4; Madison Crowe, Rangiora, Brogan, 56.8, 5