With over 300 entries accepted for the third of Taupo’s three spring horse trials, and a waiting list operating, the dressage for the twenty competitors in the top class, the Epona Biotec CCI4*-S was judged on Friday, with Clarke Johnstone, Matangi, taking the lead on Aces High on a score of 25.3 penalties.
Amanda Pottinger, Hastings, scored 26.4 with Just Kidding, while Madison Crowe, Matangi, held third place with Waitangi Pinterest on 27.6. Monica Oakley, Karaka, was fourth on Artist with 28.7 penalties, ahead of Clarke on his 2016 Olympic mount, Balmoral Sensation, with 29.7 penalties.
Saturday’s showjumping shook things up somewhat, with Waitangi Pinterest and Balmoral Sensation providing two of only six clear showjumping rounds to move into first and second respectively. Just Kidding had one rail down to lie third, while Matthew Grayling, New Plymouth, was clear on NRM Trudeau to move up to fourth.
Cross-country day saw wind drive away the persistent humid showers which had ensured a good sole of grass, and the excellent going encouraged competitive riding. Maddie and Lush looked impressive, finishing with 2 time penalties to take the win ahead of her mentor, Clarke on Ritchie, who incurred 3.2 time penalties.
Maddy said afterwards, “Lush loves Taupo. She’s got the 4*L and now the 4*S, so that’s a goodie. It’s the first time I’ve beaten Clarke in a big one. There’s a healthy rivalry between us, but I really couldn’t have a better mentor, he’s so supportive.”
Clarke had the only round inside the optimum time with Aces High to finish third, despite having two rails down in the showjumping, while Matthew held fourth place on Trudeau with 5.2 time penalties. Christen Lane, Hastings, leapt from eleventh position after dressage to take fifth place, showjumping clear and having the second fastest cross-country round with 1.6 time penalties.
The Taupo Vet Centre CCI3*-S was won convincingly by Taupo’s Jock Paget, who led from go to whoa on Bing Bong, a horse he has been preparing patiently since returning from England. They added no penalties to their dressage score, Jock saying afterwards, “He’s never gone so fast, but why wouldn’t you on such good going and a lovely open track. He’s really turned a corner this season.
Jock will be dividing his time between all the disciplines in the future, having just been appointed general manager for ESNZ High Performance Sport. His role as Eventing High Performance Leader has seen the sport make great progress, preparing competitors for the environment they will meet overseas, and raising the bar here.
By Virginia Caro