The dream of show director Kevin Hansen to run the cross-country phase of the Eventing at the NRM Horse of the Year Show on the show-grounds was rewarded by a successful afternoon of exciting action over a course designed by the highly regarded John Nicholson (brother of world no.1 event rider Andrew Nicholson), who made the most of the restrictions imposed by the infrastructure of the biggest equestrian show in the southern hemisphere.
Matthew Grayling on NRM Lowenberg, leader of the CIC3* class after Friday’s dressage on a score of 46.8, have retained the lead despite incurring 6 time penalties on the cross-country. Clarke Johnstone has moved into second place on Balmoral Sensation with 2.8 time penalties, while second placed Donna Smith and Balmoral Tangolooma dropped from second to sixth after collecting 14.8 time penalties.
Young gun Samantha Felton, at her first 3* start, was one of only two riders to go inside the time, pulling up from sixth after the dressage on Ricker Ridge Pico Boo to lie third, ahead of Joseph Waldron and Springvale All Black, who also went inside the time to improve from seventh to fourth. Defending title holders Simon Gordon and Fletch.com had 0.4 of a time penalty to pull up to fifth from eighth after the dressage.
He came from behind last year, and with less than 4 points (the price of a single rail down) between the top five, Sunday’s showjumping is sure to be influential again this year. The horses also have to pass a veterinary inspection to ensure they are fit after the exertions of Saturday’s cross-country.
Felton, a member of the Talent Development Squad, holds first and second place in the CIC2* class, having gone inside the time on both Henton After Dark, who led after the dressage, and Ricker Ridge Escada, who was fourth. Sir Mark Todd has pulled up from sixth after the dressage on Kate Wood’s Drakkar to lie third, having produced a masterly round inside the time despite sitting on the horse for the first time on Wednesday.
NZ Young Rider One-day Event champion Madison Crowe, from Rangiora, is close behind on Brogan. They were second after the dressage and incurred 3.2 cross-country time penalties, showing the benefit of being a working pupil with Clarke Johnstone this autumn.
Results after Cross-Country
CIC3*: Matthew Grayling, New Plymouth, NRM Lowenberg, 52.8, 1; Clarke Johnstone, Ngauruawahia, Balmoral Sensation, 53.5; Samantha Felton, Matangi, Ricker Ridge Pico Boo, 54.3, 3; Joseph Waldron, Te Awamutu, Springvale All Black, 54.9; Simon Gordon, Karaka, Fletch.com, 55.6, 5.
NZ Horse & Pony CIC2*: Felton, Henton After Dark, 42.8; Felton, Ricker Ridge Escada, 48.3, 2; Sir Mark Todd, Drakkar, 48.6; Madison Crowe, Rangiora, Brogan, 48.8.