Matthew Grayling has a good grip on the title at the Puhinui International 3 Day Event in the Honda NZ CCI3*, but this sport has a reputation of being unforgiving and there is still a day to go before the trophies are given out. Grayling, riding Henton Executive, is 12 penalty points ahead of Kelsey Rotheray on The Felon and 21.6 points ahead of Dannie Lodder on Moochi . 

Trailblazer Brent Jury was the only round under the time on the day but after a disastrous dressage yesterday, the pair are still only in 4th place. 

Grayling, a dairy farmer from Taranaki, was full of praise for his horse Henton Executive, bred locally by Henton Lodge Hanoverians. “This is the first time I have ridden the horse at this level. He showed good heart, he was honest. I said go and he backed me.”

The pair had a couple of near misses on the course including in the influential water complex in the main arena. “He came out of the water and left a leg, and the distance was tight enough as it was for a horse that powers up the bank.” 

The course was very testing, and three of the competitors didn’t finish the course including the overnight leaders, Angela Lloyd and Song who had a soft fall in the water. 

In the Cato Packaging CCI2*, Donna Smith and Balmoral Sensation retained her lead from the dressage phase, although with 3.6 time faults, her margin has slipped. She has a three of the country’s top young riders less than 7 points behind her. Virginia Thompson was clear and within the time to be in second place, Clarke Johnstone on Leo Degas in 3rd with Samantha Felton on Ricker Ridge Pico Boo in 4th.

Last year in this competition Smith and Balmoral Sensation had a spectacular fall in the main arena. Smith confessed to a few pre-event nerves. “I let out a huge sigh of relief when I left the arena this time, I hadn’t realised it was bothering me so much. I have never had so many people saying ‘Good luck mate’ before I set off.”

Smith was also full of praise for Andrew Nicholson who yesterday had given her some tips on how to ride her horse. “I had a great conversation with Andrew, he was so inspiring. He told me I had a beautiful horse and it was great that he cared enough to give me some advice, and be so forthcoming with his knowledge.”

The Balmoral horses also continued good form in the Veterinary Associates CCI* with Simone Kann on Balmoral Oakey taking the lead after a clear cross country. It’s a tight squeeze between the top 5 in this class, only 4 faults separate them. Cherie Jaques on Tobinator and Sophie Wilkinson on Bob’s Dream are in second and third place.

The horses must pass a veterinary inspection in the morning before they then take on the final phase in the competition, the showjumping. The Veterinary Associates CCI* starts at 10.45, the Honda NZ CCI3* at 1.30 and the Cato Packaging CCI2* at 2.45pm.

Results after Cross Country:

Honda New Zealand CCI3*
Matthew Grayling, Henton Executive 57.6
Kelsey Rothery, The Felon, 69.6
Dannie Lodder, Moochi, 79.2
Brent Jury, SE Big, 83.4

Cato Packaging CCI**
Donna Smith, Balmoral Sensation, 42.1
Virginia Thompson, Star Nouveau, 46.7
Clarke Johnstone, Leo Degas, 47.4
Samantha Felton, Ricker Ridge Pico Boo, 48.9

Veterinary Associates CCI*
Simone Kann, Balmoral Oakey, 45.6
Cherie Jaques, Tobinator, 46.2
Sophie Wilkinson, Bob’s Dream, 48.1
Jessica Woods, LV Award, 49.4