It was a long but rewarding weekend for all involved in the huge horse trials event at the Fiber-Fresh Dunstan National Equestrian Centre over the weekend, with a history making international seminar running alongside the event, and massive thunderstorms to cope with as well.

The three CCI classes 4*-S, 3*-S and 2*-S, performed their dressage in calm overcast conditions on Friday afternoon, and also had fine but ominous weather for their cross-country early on Saturday morning, but were peppered by intermittent showers for their showjumping on Sunday.

The entries were not big in these classes (in fact there were more seminar participants than competitors!), but Chris Ross’s cross-country course would have looked the part anywhere in the world. Bundy Philpott, who was home for a week to renew her visa, thought it was big but kind, and Andrew Bennie, also visiting, was amazed at the changes in the NEC since he competed there in the 1980s.

Now a former Olympian and currently a 5* FEI judge, he volunteered to fence judge on Sunday, when all the national classes did their cross-country. Those who know Andrew will not be unduly surprised, but I wonder how many current eventers will note that you are never too highly credentialed to do a job that keeps your sport going.

The Reyna Equestrian CCI4*-S had eight starters, and was the first leg of the Eventing Land Rover

Super League. It was led from go to whoa by 23 year old Charlotte Edwards, from Plimmerton, riding the experienced Just de Manzana. They were clear and inside the time on cross-country, but had three showjumping rails down for a final score of 48.1 penalties.

Experienced international Lizzie Green was second on Corona Xtreme after incurring 17.2 time penalties on cross-country and having a showjumping rail down, to finish on 58.8 penalties. Brittany Fowler took third place courtesy of a clear showjumping round, despite incurring 20 jump and 13.2 time penalties on cross-country, finishing with 69.6 penalties in total.

Kevin Hansen found ground to build the showjumping course despite all the rain, and five of the eight starters completed the three phases. Monica Spencer and Abigail Long withdrew Chasing Great and Belmont Holy Smoke after the cross-country, while Helen McGrath and Woodbine Magic Maze fell at fence 6, but both got up and walked away which was a relief.

The Portage Cars CCI3*-S attracted fourteen starters, including the Young Riders vying for the Charisma Trophy, however three retired on cross-country and another three were withdrawn, leaving only eight to showjump. Dressage leader Lizzie Green had a refusal at the water splash with Commanche II, but was one of the three to have fault free showjumping rounds.

This opened the door for Kyle Calder and Apteryx, who were second after the dressage but took the lead after a clear cross-country round inside the time. They held top spot despite a rail down and 0.8 of a time penalty in the showjumping. Winners of the Pro-Am series in 20-21, Kyle and Apteryx will move up to 4* at Hunua in February.

Second place went to the winner of the New Zealand Young Rider title, Carys McCrory and Nemesis, who finished on their dressage score of 38.1 penalties. From Hastings, 21 year old Carys spent a year as a working pupil with Amanda Pottinger, and says, “She was a big influence on my cross-country riding and my horse management.”

Born in Scotland, Carys came to New Zealand with her family as a twelve year old, having been a pony club member there, and doing her first cross-country at seven years old. Now a member of the Flaxmere Pony Club, Carys is the current NZPCA Young Achiever, and also a member of the ESNZ Talent ID squad.

Nemesis is a 12 year old TB, bred and raced by Mark Goodwin in the Central Districts until he was a 7 year old. Carys has had him for four years and produced him herself, saying, “We learned together, so this means the world to me.” She works at NZ Performance Horses stud, near Havelock North, helping school the young horses.

Third place in the 3* went to Louise Mulholland and the ever consistent Mr McTaggert, who incurred 4.4 time penalties on cross-country but were clean and clear in the showjumping to finish on 41.9 penalties. Sadly for Charlotte Penny, she was unable to defend her Young Rider title after an injury prior to the event.

The Waikato EVC Taupo CCI2*-S had ten starters, all of whom finished the cross-country, although one was withdrawn before the showjumping. It was won by Dana Hawkins riding Oranoa Mason, ahead of Jordan Stephenson on Blurred Lines, and Abbey Thompson on Cadbury KSNZ.

The Junior Rider title class was the Coast NZ CCN2*-S, with 21 starters, eight of them Juniors. They did their dressage and showjumping on Saturday, and went cross-country on Sunday. Scout Lodder won the class and the title on Money Shot, on their dressage score of 34.9 penalties.

Lizzie Green was second on Classify Xtreme with 35.2 penalties, two cross-country time penalties costing her the win, and Emily Marett was third on Nigella Warrior with a showjumping rail down costing her the win. Scout was fourth on Kingsguard, who led after the dressage on 29.6 penalties, but had two showjumping rails down.

Scout is still only fifteen years old, and a pupil at St Kentigen’s, currently in the middle of her NCEA exams. She goes to school by bus, leaving at 7am and returning at 5pm, so a long day, but both she and her mother Dannie assure me she rides all her horses herself. Dannie is a help of course, and she also credits Jock Paget for his help.

The presentation took place in the indoor hall while the worst storm of the day raged outside, sounding very scary on the roof. But how lucky are we to have that fantastic facility, which made it possible to host the large FEI Seminar and organise an event with over 300 horses in six levels of competition, during a weekend of wild intermittent thunderstorms.


Virginia Caro