Clarke Johnstone has notched a first today (Sunday), as winner of the CIC3* in the eventing at the NRM Horse of the Year Show.
Aboard Balmoral Sensation, a horse he only paired with six weeks ago, Johnstone (Matangi), a team bronze medal-winner from the 2010 World Champs, led home the remaining 12 combinations.
He and Sensation (owned by the Johnstone family) were the only ones to go clear and inside time over the final phase of the three-discipline event, finishing just over five faults ahead of defending champion Simon Gordon (Karaka) and Fletch.Com, with Joseph Waldron (Te Awamutu) on Springvale All Black just 0.3 points behind.
Gordon went clear in the showjumping, but picked up three time faults for his caution.
Waldron's single rail was unlucky – Springvale All Black slipped going into a fence and seemed unbalanced.
Johnstone, who has earlier finished second and third in the Eventer of the Year class, was a very happy rider. He has not long moved back from the United Kingdom, but seems to have settled in well and building a strong team of horses.
Johnstone and Sensation went into the showjumping in second place, behind former Olympian Matthew Grayling (Taranaki) on NRM Lowenberg. However, with all the pressure in the world on his shoulders, Grayling, the last to go, dropped the first fence and had another fall, sliding him to fourth place.
Johnstone had plenty of praise for Donna Smith who had produced the David Goodin-bred grey gelding.
“Donna has done all the work on this horse so a big thanks to her,” he said. “I am very lucky.”
He's very excited about his new partnership.
“This is just the first step with him. This was the first event we aimed him for but really, I couldn't have asked him to go any better.”
And he had plenty to say about the event too.
“The show has been really fantastic,” said Johnstone. “It is so different to anything else we have in New Zealand, with the crowds, the arena and lots of people all round the water jump . . . it has been great.”
In the NZ Horse and Pony Magazine CIC2* Samantha Felton (Waikato) bagged a quinella, finishing first on Henton After Dark and second on Ricker Ridge Escada, with Sir Mark Todd and Drakkar (owned by Kate Wood) in third spot.
CIC3*: Clarke Johnstone (Matangi) Balmoral Sensation (owned by the Johnstone family) 53.5 penalty points 1, Simon Gordon (Karaka) Fletch.com 58.6 2, Joseph Waldron (Te Awamutu) Springvale All Black 58.9 3, Matthew Grayling (Taranaki) NRM Lowenberg 60.8 4, Samantha Felton (Waikato) Ricker Ridge Pico Boo 62.3 5, Donna Smith (Te Kauwhata) Balmoral Tangolooma 77.9 6.
NZ Horse and Pony Magazine CIC2*: Samantha Felton (Waikato) Henton After Dark 42.8 penalty points 1, Samantha Felton (Waikato) Ricker Ridge Escada 52.3 2, Sir Mark Todd (UK) Drakkar (owned by Kate Wood) 52.6 3, Dannie Lodder (Auckland) Waitangi Icon (owned by John and Jocelyn Bayley)53.1 4, Madison Crowe (Rangiora) Brogan 56.8 5, Chanel Campbell (Auckland) Kingston Time 58.3 6.