Cross Country Culls the Field at Kihikihi

Cross Country Culls the Field at Kihikihi
World Champs team bronze medallist Clarke Johnstone has taken the lead in the CIC3* at the BNZ Kihikihi International Horse Trial after an action-packed cross country phase that saw many combinations eliminated or retired.
The John Nicholson-designed course lived up its reputation, with just six of the 11 starters finishing.
Johnstone (Waikato) and his new horse Balmoral Sensation, who last month was crowned Eventer of the Year at the NRM Horse of the Year rode a bold round that saw him clear with just a handful of time faults.
The 26-year-old said he was rapt with the big grey.
“We took the option at the water because there was just too much risk for me to go straight through,” he said. “That's where the time faults came from. The rest of the course was great – it was hard work . . . big and difficult, but it's what we expect at Kihikihi.”
It was the toughest course Sensation had ever jumped, and Johnstone said it was a big step up for the horse that he only teamed up with two months ago.
Johnstone has made no secret of his desire to win the inaugural Bounce Trophywhich has been donated by World Champ and Olympian Vaughn Jefferis in honour of his superstar horse Bounce for the winner of the three star.
“Sensation was just fantastic out there.”
They head head into tomorrow's all-important showjumping with three rails in hand.
Kelsey Rothery (Cambridge) and The Felon flew round the course to rise from 12th to second, while Simon Gordon (Karaka) and moved from 14th to third. There is less than a rail between the two riders.
Overnight leader Matthew Grayling (Taranaki) and NRM Lowenberg retired after two run-outs, as did Campbell Draper (Putaruru) aboard Kahurangi Manu. Christen Hayde (Auckland) and Tandarra Sweet As also retired.
Joe Waldron (Te Awamutu) aboard Springvale All Black and Angela Lloyd (Auckland) on Song were both eliminated for missing a compulsory passage. Lloyd was stopped on course, while Waldron continue through to the finish. He was bitterly disappointed with the ruling.
Last year's winner Dannie Lodder (Ararimu), Donna Smith (Te Kauwhata) and Samantha Felton (Cambridge) withdrew before the cross country.

Results (after dressage and cross country phases):

BNZ CIC3*: Clarke Johnstone (Waikato) Balmoral Sensation 62.6 1, Kelsey Rothery (Cambridge) The Felon 76.6 2, Simon Gordon (Karaka) 79.6 3, Abby Lawrence (Te Puke) Pseudonym 101.2 4, Shelley Ross (Waitemata) Coleraine Coaltown 104.4 5, Bundy Philpott (Waikato) Britanica MVNZ 123.4 6.

A fairy tale round . . . Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation cruise through the Hundred Acre Woods during the cross country phase of the BNZ CIC3*. Photograph by Diana Dobson/The Black Balloon

Date Added: Saturday, 12th April 2014