Sensational Grey Heading to Badminton

Sensational Grey Heading to Badminton

Photo: Libby Law Photography

If there’s one event Clarke Johnstone loves to be a part of, it’s the Kihikihi International Horse Trial.
And the CIC3* champ from 2014 has it in his sights again aboard the beautiful grey Balmoral Sensation . . . but there could be a small hiccup on the horizon.
Johnstone (Matangi) has worked his way back onto the Equestrian Sports New Zealand High Performance squad, and is now contemplating taking Sensation (owned by the Johnstone family) to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.
“I would love to defend my title at Kihikihi,” says 27-year-old Johnstone. “It was a great win last year and he won well . . . but I think the score could still have been better. This is one of my favourite events and it is awesome to win there.”
He’s done it before, having won it in 2011 on Orient Express and 2007 on Oakley Vision.
“Last year Sensation and I were a new combination, just coming together.”
And what a start it was – he and the Donna Smith prepared Sensation won the CIC3* at the Horse of the Year Show in March, followed that with the victory at Kihikihi, then the CCI3* classes at Taupo and Puhinui.
“It was a dream start and he is feeling a lot better now too . . . I didn’t even have him at this time last year!”
Kihikihi is Johnstone’s local event.
“The (cross country) course is just fantastic – John (Nicholson) always produces the best course and one that is a real challenge. I like everything about the event.”
Johnstone, who was part of the bronze medal winning New Zealand team at the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games, is chuffed to be back on the HP squad.
“It is very exciting. I thought the horse’s results had been very good, but you never really know until you are named.”
Initially he had contemplated starting 10-year-old Sensation at the 4* in Luhmuhlen, but then opted for Badminton.
“While it isn’t 100% yet, Sensation would leave in late April for Badminton. The way the flights are, he would probably be there two months, which is longer than I would like. I would rather bring him home as soon as possible after the event.”
The horse has had a very relaxing break since Puhinui in December.
“He had a complete holiday in the big paddock with his friends and got very fat . . . but he’s looking great!”
Johnstone is also likely to compete in the CIC2* at Kihikihi aboard 10-year-old Sportsman II (owned by Rhys Powell) and seven-year-old Quainton Labyrinth (owned by Shona, Jean and Rob Johnstone), who last year competed in the CIC1*.


Date Added: Tuesday, 24th February 2015