New Zealand’s young riders have a 4.3 penalty point edge over the Australian visitors at the end of the dressage in the NRM CCI3*-L Oceania Teams’ Competition at the NZ3DE in Taupo.
Lucy Turner and Astek Victor were the best of the New Zealanders, sitting in second spot on 29.6 penalty points with Jordyn Faint and Double S & Evergreen Jackpot top scorers for the visitors in sixth place on 32.2. Samantha Lissington has got off to a good start in defending her 3* title aboard Ricker Ridge Sooty GNZ, sitting at the top of the 39-strong field on 28.7 penalty points.
New Zealand young rider chef d’equipe Annie Styles was delighted with the efforts of her charges. “We’ve got a couple of young horses who put in strong performances for where they are at and Lucy pulled out a stunner,” said Annie. “Her potential really shone through today. I felt all had ridden to the best of their abilities riding every movement and not giving anything away.”
She was rapt to be just in front at the end of the dressage but cautioned there was plenty more to be ridden before the final champs are found. “It is very tight between the two teams.”
Australian young rider chef d’equipe Will Enzinger was also very pleased with his riders. “We haven’t been together that long and I wanted to keep them confident and allow them to do the best job they can do,” he said. “Some may not be super happy with their mark but they are still all really in the mix. It is a three day event and this is just the beginning.”
Both teams have walked the Chris Ross-designed cross country course. “The cross country course has been beautifully presented and provides plenty of questions for the riders and horses. It’s long and testing all the way around so it’s definitely not going to be a Dressage competition. The Kiwi riders are pumped and looking forward to the challenge!”
Those sentiments were reiterated by Will. “It is a tough track. There are lots of questions out there and the time will be influential. We’ve all got a lot of work ahead. As much as we love the Kiwis, we want to beat them!”
That the event was testing the new Olympic format was a huge benefit for all. “It is an opportunity for us all to explore the new format and have a play around and see how it will play out for Tokyo,” said Will. “It is amazing the young rider are incorporated in that.”
Class leader Samantha was very happy with the efforts of Ricker Ridge Sooty GNZ but said she felt there were more marks to come from her eight-year-old. “It was a really solid test,” she said. “He just keeps getting better. The cross country is always tough here. Chris has done an amazing job and it looks great. I can’t wait to get out and test our skills.”
Sooty was always the perfectionist on a cross country course, which she said put pressure on her to keep it that way.
NRM CCI3*-L: Samantha Lissington (Matangi) Ricker Ridge Sooty GNZ 28.7 penalty points 1, Lucy Turner (Christchurch/NZ) Astek Victor 29.6 2, Monica Oakley (Karaka) Artist 30.8 3, Clarke Johnstone (Matangi) Deo Volente 31.4 4, Monica Oakley (Karaka) Man of Honour 31.6 5, Jordyn Faint (AUS) Double S & Evergreen Jackpot 32.2 6.
Young Rider Oceania Teams’ Competition: New Zealand 102.9 penalty points (Beth Wilson/Alto et Audax 36.6, Lucy Turner/Astek Victor 29.6, Vicky Browne-Cole/Cutting Edge 36.7) 1, Australia 107.2 (Jordyn Faint/Double S & Evergreen Jackpot 32.2, Tayah Andrew/Silver Force 37, Isabel McLachlan/Ventura 38) 2.
By Diana Dobson