The scores couldn’t get much closer between the two hot contenders for the New Zealand National Young Rider title at the South Island Three Day event which started today at McLeans Island, Christchurch with the Glenwillow Feeds dressage day.

Making the big trip down from Auckland for this competition was Vicky Browne-Cole and she did a lovely test this morning on her stylish grey, Cutting Edge. Her score of 33 was just enough to pip the local defending national young rider title holder, Lucy Turner on Astek Victor who also produced a great test, scoring 33.3.

Vicky was really happy with her dressage test. “It’s been a big trip down and I expected my horse to be a bit tired, I was wrong,” she said afterwards. “She is definitely feeling fit, so I was really happy she stayed with me in the arena and I couldn’t have asked for any more.”

Like most of the riders this morning, Vicky hadn’t had a chance to look at the all-important cross country course that she will be taking on tomorrow, but will fit a course walk in around competing in another class on her other horse Eli. “I am looking forward to getting out there tomorrow, from what I’ve seen so far the course looks great.”

Vicky’s test on Eli went really well too, and she is in the lead in the Ultimate Design and Renovation CCI2* class after the first phase.

As to her experience so far of the South Island, she was having a great time.  “I can’t speak highly enough about how friendly and generous everyone has been here which is really lovely as it’s strange not seeing as many familiar faces as at home. I would highly recommend to anyone considering making the trip down to do it! We had some beautiful scenery on the way down and some cool new experiences with the ferry crossing and again I can’t speak highly enough about how well we are being looked after.”

Lincoln’s Lucy Turner was a little disappointed with some of her dressage this morning in the 2* class. “It was a little bit tense in the walk which is a shame as he has a really nice walk, but other than that, he was good.”

The pair haven’t been out competing much this season so far. “I had the Springston Trophy last weekend, but other than that, we are coming into this without the normal amount of runs, as I have had a busy time with my hockey commitments.”

Lucy won her previous two Young Rider 3 Day Event national titles on her little black horse Carbon, but he has been out with an injury. “He is back in work now, but I have been so busy I haven’t had much time to get him fit!”  Astek Victor has been impressing many as he has been learning his job and moving up the grades, and is a more than capable replacement.

The young riders are sitting on second and third in the overall Bates CCI3* class, but had to let the veteran of the competition, Brent Jury (Cust), lead the way.  Riding SE Gorky Park, Brent posted a score of 32.2 to have a narrow edge over his competitors. Brent, not usually one concerned about fashion, was more worried about his white gloves not being the thing to wear any more, and whether his coat was getting a bit tight, than to talk about his horse’s performance.

In the CCI4* class, Emily Cammock (West Melton) on Shaw Lee has a good lead on a score of 34.9.

While Vicky Cole-Brown on Eli leads the the Ultimate Design and Renovation CCI2*, the leader of the National Junior Rider competition, which is run as part of that class, is being led by Mosgiel’s Ella Morshuis, on her fancy-stepping World Famous. She is on a score of 29.2. The next Junior rider competitor is on 34.1 and that is Molly Moffat (Ohoka) and Glenmark.  

The Hobson Horse Coaches and Motor Homes CCN1* class is being led by Oxford’s Charlotte Thomas, riding Time after Time. She is on a score of 29.8 and is being followed closely by two far more experienced riders, Lauren Enright (Mosgiel) riding Tygra and Emily Cammock riding her beautiful palomino, Golden Kiwi. Both are on the same score – 29.9. Tygra won a national title here last year with Lauren, the lower grade CCN105 class, and it is good to see the seven-year-old thoroughbred continuing with his consistent form after stepping up a class.

Courtney Davis (Waipara) on Raindance Maggie is leading the CCI2*S non-championship class. Isabelle Ussher leads the Continuous Spouting CCN105 on Dingmac Demoiselle from Emily Cammock on Couper.  Caitlin Rayne leads the Dunstan CCN95 class on My Hallucination. The Saddlery Barn CCN95 is being lead by Chloe Wheelans, riding Starlight Daytona.

Flora, ridden by Kirsty Jacomb (Rangiora) leads the Rangiora Equestrian Supplies CCN80. Louise Poultney on Du Pablo leads the Melwood Equestrian CCN80 under 21. The Cover Queen CCN65 class sees Janelle Shaw on Matanui Renegade leading.

For further information on scores, and to keep up with scores as they progress for the rest of the event, use this link: 

The Chair of the judging panel (Ground Jury) is none other than Southland’s Helen Christie, who has been appointed as the Chief Steward for the Tokyo Olympics next year.  Helen heads to Japan to judge at another horse trials shortly after this event finishes. And she says she won’t be fitting in any rugby matches to her itinerary while she is there!

The cross country starts at 8am tomorrow morning, and then the final veterinary inspection of the horses will be held on Sunday morning, with the show jumping following that.

Entry is free to spectators.