It’s been a brilliant day of dressage competition at the New Zealand Three Day Event Championships in Taupo. The rain stayed away but there was certainly plenty of chill in the wind.
Renee Faulkner (Auckland) continued her winning way and sits at the front of the NRM CCI3*-L Championship field with 22 of 33 combinations through the dressage. She leads aboard Gina VT Bloemenhof, the mum of LSH Chivenor Bloemenhof, on whom she won the Young Event Horse Championship yesterday.
Gina’s 26.3 penalty point dressage effort put her 1.4 ahead of Heelan Tompkins (Rotorua) aboard Danielle Wheeler’s CP Aurelio on 27.7 and Christen Lane (Taupo) aboard Henton Armada on 28.2.
“She was great out there,” said Renee of the mare. “We did have a few pre-rides to get her to that calmness and she had that nice flow to her work. She was awesome today. It was definitely one of her better tests.”
The mare is owned by Alex Donald and has been ridden by Renee for nearly 18 months. “I really rate her. We did plan to have her at 4* this season, but she was at EquiBreed getting embryos done, so we will pop up and do them next season. We are enjoying 3*. We have built up a good partnership and I think it showed today. She certainly has a bright future ahead.”
Elise Power (Takapuna) was confident seven-year-old WonderStrike would produce a good dressage test and he didn’t disappoint, with a 25.9 penalty point effort to lead the 27-strong field. “That is a typical score for him,” says the 22-year-old fulltime student who is doing honours in psychology. Sitting in second is Denise Rushbrook (Otakiri) aboard Astek Gadzuks on 26.7 and Monica Oakley (Taupo) with Chasing Great in third on 28.2
WonderStrike was bred by Debbie Martin, has been with Elise since he was three and she says has been trained to produce tests like this. They train with Tina Thorowgood who Elise says has been fundamental in the production of the horse. “He only stepped up to 2* this season but has been consistently in the placings on the flat. He’s also fast, clever and consistent in the cross country. He is an exciting horse, especially when you consider he is still so young.”
WonderStrike is a loveable ratbag at home. “He has a lot of personality and that is why he is fun to train. He enjoys learning.” This is his first long format event. “He is my dream horse, and I am certainly banking on him for the future.”
Ashra McAvinue (Hunua) is very pleased with the personal best 23.5 penalty point effort from her six-year-old mare TR Willow in the Dunstan CCN1*-L Championship. They’re in their first season together and first long format start. “We started our eventing career at 95 in October and stepped up to a 1* short at Rotorua. She is by Worldly, so has dressage bloodlines and very capable of a good dressage test.”
They are trained by Monica Oakley, Jock Paget, Dannie Lodder and Penny Pearce. “They are all awesome,” says high school teacher Ashra. “I really just wanted to give her a good experience here, given it is early days and she is only a baby.”
The horse is lovely to have around with a beautiful temperament. “She is still green but quite brave. We haven’t done anything this long before. There is lots of galloping out there so we will have to see how it feels. At the end of the day, it is about long term goals for us, so I want her to have a good experience.”
Bridie Quigley (Auckland) and Ricker Ridge Riley are making the most of their first long format event, with a personal best 2* dressage mark of 26.2 penalty points in the Treadlite CCN2*-L Open. She’s had the nine-year-old warmblood thoroughbred for just over two years, having bought the horse from Samantha Lissington.
“It is really rewarding for me to see our work at home and training with Monica Oakley and Penny Pearce has been paying off,” she says. “I just like to focus on one phase at a time. He tries really hard and jumped a great clear at Rotorua leading up to this where we won the CCI2*. He is very consistent.”
Bridie says she appreciates the effort that has gone in behind the scenes to put on an event like Taupo. “It is our first time here and it is just amazing.”
Ashleigh McKinstry (Taupo) has a stranglehold on the Taupo Veterinary Centre CCN105-L Open, sitting in first aboard Pioneer Ice Monkey on 27.7 and second with Pioneer Koromiko on 27.9. Kirsity Bale (Whangarei) and Kelaray Gifted are in third on 30.
Her two homebred horses have been level-pegging all season. “It is great they are so close and fighting it out,” she says. The two are chalk and cheese – eight-year-old Ice Monkey is cheeky with a big personality, while seven-year-old Koromiko is a bit shy. Both are in their first season competing.
“I expected good tests from them – they have given me high expectations so far.” The two both scored 19.4 in their dressage at Riverdale just two weeks ago.
“The cross country looks good out there. It is a bit beefy in the second part though and will be a big test for them both.”
Anne-Marie Styles (Clevedon) and Get Go are in the top spot in the 24-strong Penny Homes CCN95-L Open, sitting on a score of 27.5 penalty points, with Brea Walker (Puhoi) and SF Gryphon just a smidgen behind on 27.9.
Anne-Marie and Get Go, who is owned by the injured Danielle Wheeler, have only been together a couple of weeks. They have competed at Rotorua and yesterday placed fifth in the Young Event Horse class.
“He came out today and just did a beautiful test,” says Anne-Marie. “I knew he was capable of doing a good test but didn’t expect to be in this position. He is very cute, but only five so green.” She is also in fourth spot aboard LV Imprint, who is owned by Mitty Forsyth.
Anne-Marie is no stranger to Taupo, having been bridesmaid a number of times at the national championships at both 3* and 4* level, as well as picking up numerous placings.
She’s looking forward to getting out on the cross country tomorrow which she says is beautifully presented and looks like a lot of fun to ride.
Sinead Gordon (Waipu) and I Told You So have the slenderest of leads in the Oranoa Sport Horses CCN95-L Restricted class, sitting on 28.5 with Rebecca Wilson (Otaki) and Soren right behind them on 28.6 and Rosa Wilkinson (Whangarei) aboard Kabo Pongo third on 29.8.
“He knows he is special,” she says of the 13-year-old she got in 2019. “He does like his dressage, so usually gets quite good marks. He always wants to please.”
Sinead is pegging the cross country as a riders’ course. “It is quite windy through the trees and I can tell there has been a lot of effort put into the presentation of the course with the nursery rhyme theme. It is very cool. I am looking forward to tomorrow.”
Sinead is trained by Helen McGrath for jumping and Andrea Raves for dressage.
Tomorrow sees the continuation of dressage in the CCI3*-L Championship, with the start of the CCI2*-L Open and CCI4*-L Championship. Cross country gets underway for the CCN1*-L, CCN105-L and both CCN95-L divisions.
NRM CCI3*-L Championship: Renee Faulkner (Auckland) Gina VT Bloemenhof 26.3 1, Heelan Tompkins (Rotorua) CP Aurelio 27.7 2, Christen Lane (Waiwhare) Henton Armada 28.2 3, Brent Jury (Cust) SE Gorky Park 28.7 4, Greer Caddigan (Cambridge) Ricker Ridge Pico Boo 29.8 5, Kirsty Sharapoff (Christchurch) Shoot the Breeze 31.6 6.
Marsh Ltd CCI2*-L Championship: Elise Power (Takapuna) WonderStrike 25.9 1, Denise Rushbrook (Otakiri) Astek Gadzuks 26.7 2, Monica Oakley (Taupo) Chasing Great 28.2 3, Lauren Enright (Otago) Tygra and Scout Lodder (Clevedon) Money Shot 30.2 =4, Lindsay Colwell (Christchurch) Waitangi Netflix 30.7 6.
Dunstan CCN1*-L Championship: Ashra McAvinue (Hunua) TR Willow 23.5 1, Donna Edwards-Smith (Te Kauwhata) DSE Henton For Glory 27.7 2, Anna Bryant (Methven) Peace Train 27.9 3, Stephanie Liefting (Clevedon) Prestige Springs and Scout Lodder (Clevedon) Kingsguard 29.2 =4, Charlotte van der Zwan (Whangarei) Astek Gymsee 29.7 6.
Treadlite CCN2*-L Open: Bridie Quigley (Auckland) Ricker Ridge Riley 26.2 1, Brooke Lyons (Coatesville) Freddy Dash 29.8 2, Rachel Masters (Te Awamutu) Powerhouse 30.4 3, Claudia Hurley (Patea) Dartanian 32.5 4, Scout Lodder (Papakura) Overnight Success 33 5, Ken Blake (Taupo) Our Silver Fern 36.9 6.
Taupo Veterinary Centre CCN105-L Open: Ashleigh McKinstry (Taupo) Pioneer Ice Monkey 27.7 1, Ashleigh McKinstry (Taupo) Pioneer Koromiko 27.9 2, Kirsity Bale (Whangarei) Kelaray Gifted 30 3, Jessica Woods (Ohaupo) LV No Doubts 30.2 4, Jamisen O’Brien (Auckland) Aramis 30.8 5, Carys McCrory (Hastings) Nemesis 31.4 6.
Oranoa Sport horses CCN95-L Restricted: Sinead Gordon (Waipu) I Told You So 28.8 1, Rebecca Wilson (Otaki) Soren 28.6 2, Rosa Wilkinson (Whangarei) Kabo Pongo 29.8 3, Lana Korsten (Tokoroa) Battle Front 31.6 4, Ava Holah (Hamilton) Xante 32 5, Belize McQuarrie (Christchurch) Mr JF Hawk 32.6 6.
Penny Homes CCN95-L Open: Anne-Marie Styles (Clevedon) Get Go 27.5 1, Brea Walker (Puhoi) SF Gryphon 27.9 2, Sarah Saint Merat (Whangarei) Balliamo 28.9 3, Anne-Marie Styles (Clevedon) LV Imprint 29.5 4, Kate Fleming (Lumiere VWNZ) 29.6 5, Louise Mulholland (Taumarunui) Don Rose 30.2 6.
For full results, head to www.equestrianentries.co.nz
Pictured: Renee Faulkner & Gina VT Bloemenhof