Amazing cross country day sees new leaders
Stars in Alignment for Thompson
Virginia Thompson and her super mare, Star Nouveau steamed around the testing Honda New Zealand CCI3* cross country course for a clear round leaving them in the lead after day two of the Puhinui International Three Day Event.
Thompson, the winner from 2015 was in 9th position after dressage but first to go she attacked the course with impressive confidence making it look straight forward despite difficult wet conditions making the going slippery and visibility poor.
“The cross country is her thing” says Thompson, ”she was fantastic. I had to change my ride with the conditions and change a few lines but she gave me everything she’s got, she’s my one in a million”
After Thompson, it was clear the course was anything but straightforward with many problems, a few falls and retirements resulting as riders battled the tough course in the sideways rain. Overnight leaders Amanda Pottinger and Just Kidding called it a day at the water complex when Just kidding said “you have got to be kidding” about jumping into the water a second time.
But then came 19 year old Renee Faulkner with her cross country machine of a horse, Rubinstar HH who were foot perfect other than at the water where Rubinstar HH athletically jumped on and off an extra bank without missing a beat. This combination are ones to watch for the future.
“I didn’t really know what happened at the water but he was just great. I had to be a bit more cautious than usual, not quite so pumping into every fence” says Faulkner.
The famous yellow fellow, DSE Mr Hokey Pokey with Donna Edwards-Smith zoomed through the first section of the course with Edwards-Smith’s experience showing as she negotiated the water complex. DSE Mr Hokey Pokey did not hit the planned line in but stayed upright over the big box corner. Then he had a slow jump back into the water a second time which saw Edwards-Smith sit right back to stay onboard.
“He was just great. He is so honest and tried his heart out for me out there today” said Edwards-Smith. 22 time faults have left them in forth position but well within reach of the leader.
Samantha Felton, recently returned from a campaign in Australia had a super round, attacking the course positively on Ricker Ridge Escada. They produced one of the best rides through the challenging water complex.
“He had a lovely rhythm and gave me a lot of confidence as the round went on” says Felton. They lie in second place overnight. “Toby jumped the best ever round in showjumping here last year so fingers crossed he remembers that for tomorrow” said Felton.
Abby Lawrence and Song are lying third with less than one rail separating them from Felton. Lawrence impressed on the experienced mare who coped well with the wet conditions producing the second fastest round.
“There were a few times when she slipped early on but she looked after me really well and gave me a great ride” said Lawrence.
Less than three rails separate the top four so even though there are only six remaining in the competition, the deciding show jumping on Sunday will be tense.
The iSpyHorses CCI2* is also hotly contested with Abby Lawrence on Charlton Yamani sharing the overnight lead with Ashleigh Mckinstry on Pioneer Brass Monkey.
The leader board changed in the Honda NZ Young Rider competition as well with the leader after dressage, Sarah Young, dropping out of contention after a refusal and a foot perfect performance by second placed Lucy Turner on Carbon. Now holding a strong lead, Turner can drop two rails in the show jumping and still win after her fast and clear cross country.
“Carbon is a pretty strong show jumper but the rider can be a bit average sometimes” says Turner.
Turner competes at Grand Prix level on another mount so she may be somewhat understating her skill level at this phase.
All horses must pass a Horse Inspection tomorrow morning (Sunday) before then completing the competition with a show jumping round. The show jumping starts at 10 am with the Honda New Zealand CCI 3* expected to be at approximately 3pm.
Amanda Pottinger Impresses International Judges at Puhinui Horse Trials
The tense atmosphere at the Puhinui International Horse Trials venue proved perfect for some and too much for others today. In each of the seven classes, including the premiere Honda New Zealand CCI3*, the leaders shone with sparkling performances while others were left reflecting on the challenges of dressage.
Current National Three Day champ, Amanda Pottinger, had a fantastic start to the weekend aboard her 10-year-old thoroughbred Just Kidding. Pottinger outshone the field, producing an elegant and energetic test to take the lead in the Honda New Zealand CCI3*.
Pottinger, who sits on 47.5 points, says her method of warm up consists of a morning gallop before her test to “get him to breathe.” “He severely holds his breath when you are working him in because he gets so nervous. You can’t put your legs on so I go out in the morning in a jump saddle and just gallop,” says Pottinger. An unconventional method that obviously worked today.
In second sits Diane Gilder on her Australian Thoroughbred Your Attorney with 48.9 points. “I missed Puhinui last year because my horse had a pulled muscle so it’s good to be back riding this year,” says Gilder.
Local favourite Donna Edwards-Smith had a relatively lively Mr Hokey Pokey whose super canter work obviously impressed the judges as the combination are in third position. Edwards-Smith is keen to improve on this placing. “It’s a challenging track out there but the questions are fair. Mr Hokey Pokey may be small but this will be to his advantage if the weather is wet as forecast,” says Edwards-Smith.
Young rider, 19-year-old Renee Faulkner, started off well however, as the test progressed RubinStar HH began to anticipate movements which lead to some tension in the canter. “He did some really nice work but was just a bit naughty in the canter after his walk,” says Faulkner.
It’s a tight race at the top of the leader board for the iSpyHorses CCI2* with Kerikeri’s Megan Finlayson and Greensleeves leading by a slim margin. Finlayson sits on 47.3 points, closely followed by Abby Lawrence and Ashleigh McKinstry, both on 47.9, to end the dressage day.
Lawrence was delighted with how Charlton Yamani performed today. She says he handled the atmosphere well despite a few inexperienced moments. “He is still relatively inexperienced at two-star level so keeping him confident is the biggest goal tomorrow. In saying that however, I’m not here to make up the numbers,” says Lawrence.
Madison Crowe sits in fourth position with crowd favourite Waitangi Pinterest. Despite Crowe’s uncharacteristically tense CCI2* test on Waitangi Pinterest, Crowe leads the strong field of horses in Veterinary Associates CCI1* on Lucius GNZ with 44.6 points, a point ahead of Angela Lloyd and Lyrical.
Sarah Young and Leo Degas had a successful start to the competition as they hold a strong lead over Lucy Turner in the Honda New Zealand CCI2* Young Rider. Young sits on 46.6 points ahead of Turner’s 52.2 points.
Cross country commences at 8:30 tomorrow morning at Auckland’s Puhinui Reserve, Wiri.
Brodie Kane from Breakfast TV interviews Donna Edwards-Smith and Mr Hokey Pokey at the dawn of dressage day.
It's a Christmas Cracker at Puhinui International 3 Day Event
Trot Up Thursday 3pm
The excitement has begun as Auckland’s Puhinui Reserve becomes the temporary home for over 170 horses from all over New Zealand to compete in the Puhinui International Three Day Event. This hotly contested event is one of only three held in New Zealand at the Olympic level of equestrian eventing.
The premiere class offers some stiff competition, with the 2015 winner Virginia Thompson returning in an attempt to reclaim the Honda New Zealand CCI3* title. Challenging Thompson will be 11 other riders, including the 2016 One Day Champion Donna Edwards-Smith (Te Kauwhata) with her crowd favourite, Mr Hokey Pokey, and the 2016 National Three Day Champion Amanda Pottinger (Hawkes Bay).
Thompson is hoping her preparation has been good enough to hold onto the Honda CCI3* title, despite a set back earlier in the season which meant she could not compete at the Australian CCI4* event in Adelaide as planned.
“Unfortunately Paige (as she is known at home) missed a month of work from a stone bruise too close to the event. I couldn’t compete with the lost fitness so Puhinui became our new goal,” said Thompson. “Paige is feeling great. She had a super run at the One Day Champs in late October, where we placed third, so she is feeling on track.”
Having returned from the Olympics placing sixth individually for team New Zealand, Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation will not be fronting up in the CCI3* to reclaim their 2014 title. However, Johnstone’s protégée and young rider Jackson Bovill will be hoping to push the main players as he tackles his first CCI3*.
Bovill, at just 19, is not fazed at being one of the youngest riders in the premiere class and says his mount Visionnaire is feeling fit and enthusiastic in her final preparations. “She has had an awesome couple of lead up runs at the One Day Championship (where the pair placed 2nd) and Rotorua Horse Trials so I am excited for the pinnacle event of the spring season,” says Bovill.
Two South Islanders will compete in the Honda NZ CCI3* having braved a difficult journey north from Canterbury. Both Brent Jury and Kirsty Sharapoff are on talented horses new to this 3* level but come in with excellent form.
Samantha Felton, having just returned home from campaigning in Australia, will be a strong contender in the iSpyHorses CCI2* class. Competing for the same title will be the season favourite Madison Crowe aboard her new mount Waitangi Pinterest. Crowe has had brilliant results this spring placing 2nd in the CIC2* at the One Day Champs and winning the CIC2* at Rotorua Horse Trials. “I’m very excited to be heading back to Puhinui this year and a podium finish would certainly top off this spring season. Puhinui can be very testing so fingers crossed,” says Crowe.
High quality fields of Young Rider and Junior Riders will be chasing their respective Puhinui9 Three Day titles. Sarah Young with Leo Degas is favourite to take out her third Honda New Zealand Young Rider title, however the DEVI Heating Systems Junior Rider is more difficult to pick with a strong field of 18 including the consistent Gymnastik Showdown and Greer Caddigan.
2016 sees the return of Olympian Andrew Bennie to Puhinui. Bennie is a two-time Olympian, winning team bronze at the Seoul Olympics. He is now an international FEI judge and was one of the three Ground Jury members at the Rio Olympics. “Andrew Bennie will be ensuring our lower level riders are on the right track as he judges the Horse and Pony CCN105. Margs Carline, one of Andrew’s team mates from the bronze medal winning team in Seoul, joins judges from the UK and Ireland to form the Ground Jury for the Honda NZ CCI3*” says Susan O’Brien long time Event Secretary, herself an FEI Technical Delegate.
The Dressage phase kicks off on Friday 9th December with what promises to be an action packed cross-country on Saturday December 10th. The picturesque course is in brilliant condition.
“While the flow of the course is similar to previous years, there are a number of new combination questions for every level” says FEI course designer Titch Massey.
The all important show jumping will decide the winners on Sunday December 11th.
There will be many trade stalls there for everything from horse gear to Christmas presents and a number of different types of food and drinks vendors. This year sees a Rider Central base for competitors and their teams to keep an eye on the action.
The event will be livestreamed on www.equestrianlive.co.nz for those not able to attend in person.
From last year's event : STAR NOUVEAU ,STAR OF PUHINUI 2015
Well done to Virginia Thompson and Star Nouveau on their win in the Honda NZ CCI3*
You can check out the gallery of some of the cross country fences here. Course builders did a fantastic job, as did all the volunteers and the hardworking committee! The photo below shows the crew; Michael, Tich & Dave, who have done an amazing job. Thanks to Eye Witness Images for the great pic!
Our Facebook page has plenty of information on it as well as some great photos of the action and the celebrations.
Full results can be found at www.equestrianentries.co.nz
Official photographers are busy working on their photos and these should be on their websites or facebook pages shortly. They have the exclusive rights to sell photos to competitors and their supporters through until 13 January 2016. The official photographers (and links to their website) are:
Spot on Photos - Alison Price
Take the Moment - Jan Sutherland
Barbara Thomson Photography
Eye Witness Images
Sarah Caldwell Photographer
MAK Images (Michaela Kelly) - official photographer for the Puhinui Challenge
Jane Thompson Photojournalist
You should also check out An Eventful Life's website for their reports, videos and interviews with riders.
Our broadcasters Equestrian Live will shortly have on demand videos available of the event so you can relive the action. They already have some great highlights on their facebook page.
View video of the 2014 event
http://youtu.be/3fumwYc6784 Day1 Dressage Puhinui 14
http://youtu.be/dV5skUD7psc Day 2 CROSS COUNTRY Puhinui 14
http://youtu.be/F9sM8ntZyN0 Day 3 SHOW JUMPING Puhinui 14
Check out our photos in our 2014 gallery.
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