The Dunstan Fiber Fresh National Equestrian Centre provided ideal conditions and congenial weather for the Springbush Horse Trials, which were unable to run at their own venue in Hunua over the weekend, but organisers were able stage a successful event at Taupo which pleased sponsors as well as riders.

Course designer Tich Massey explained that his committee had run this high level event for the first time last year, catering for 2*, 3* and 4* horses only, in an effort to provide a prestige event staged under international rules. This year’s disastrous weather prevented the use of their venue, but he was very happy staging the event at the National Equestrian Centre, saying, “It’s quite peaceful to be in this serene place.”

Local rider Monica Spencer won the top class, the Stirling Collection CCN3*Plus, riding Artist, her World Equestrian Games bronze medal team horse. They established a comfortable lead after the dressage phase, despite being “a bit fresh” according to Monica. It was his first event since returning from Italy in November, having quarantined in Australia, and he was “so happy to be out again he was showing off!”

They added 1.6 time faults in the showjumping phase and 0.8 time penalties across country, but he “needed the run” after having a month off on his return, then being brought into work slowly. Monica said, “He didn’t miss a beat” after his trip around the world, but the 3*Plus class was less demanding than the scheduled 4* class, which was cancelled as most of the 4* fences had been transported to Hastings for the Horse of the Year Show, also a casualty of Cyclone Gabrielle.

Donna Edwards-Smith, Te Kauwhata, took second and third place on DSE Henton for Glory and DSE Mendoza respectively. Christen Lane, Hastings, was rewarded for an eight hour trip via Woodville with three horses and her five month old baby, with fourth place on Thundercat. She expressed gratitude to her mother Sue and groom Brittany Tilson who made it possible, particularly after a week without power.

Current national champion Matthew Grayling, New Plymouth, held second position after the dressage and showjumping on Winky Foley’s Trudeau, but elected to go across country at 2* level, this being his first start since a hip replacement three months ago. He commented, “I thought I’d ease myself back into it,” but that didn’t stop him winning the Donnell Sherry CCI2*S class on Henton Ambassador, finishing on their dressage score.

The Troy Wheeler Contracting CCI3*S class saw Monica Spencer successful again on Chris & Tina Barlow’s Chasing Great, ahead of another local, Charlotte Penny, who has been mentored by Monica, on SD Amourosi. Christen Lane made her long trip worthwhile with third place on Bellhaven Cumbria, and another Hawkes Bay rider, the current Young Rider champion, Carys McCrory on Nemesis, was fourth. She broke her trip by overnighting in Feilding en route.

Training scholarships offered by Blyth Tait and Penny Pearce were won by Young Rider Mackenzie Marlo in the 3* and Junior Rider Kelly Clarke in the 2*. Both were thrilled at the opportunity, and Kelly further distinguished herself by winning the Best Presented Horse in the CCI classes, generously sponsored by Vet Physio.

A popular and friendly team competition was run in conjunction with the event, sponsored by Mitavite, and consisting of three riders with all scores counting. It was won by the “Munga Muntas” consisting of Charlotte Penny, Denise Rushbrook, and Matthew Grayling, who presented their $600 winnings to the Cyclone Gabrielle Relief Fund.

Thanks to Alison Price of Spot on Photos for providing the below images of Kelly Clarke & Monica Spencer. Keep an eye on the Spot on Photo website here for the Event photographs.

To view the full results, please visit Evo Events here

Virginia Caro