New Zealand’s looks set to have one of its largest-ever contingents line up this month at the Australian International 3 Day Event with six entries in the prestigious CCI4* class.
Making the trek across the Tasman are ESNZ Eventing squad members Rio Olympian Clarke Johnstone (Matangi) with Balmoral Sensation, Donna Edwards-Smith (Te Kauwhata) with both Tangolooma and Mr Hokey Pokey, Ginny Thompson (Kaukapakapa) on Star Nouveau, Andy Daines (Kumeu) with Spring Panorama and Samantha Felton (Matangi) with Ricker Ridge Pico Boo.
Most have been doing some rather unique fundraising efforts for the big trip to attend the only CCI4* event in the Southern Hemisphere.
It’s the second consecutive year Daines has competed at the event and he feels he is heading back better armed to do well. He’s been running a “quirky little fundraiser”, a raffle that has, among other things, a $3000 diamond ring as the top prize.
“We are doing what we did last year with a few slight alterations,” said Daines of his preparation. “There are a whole group of us going over so it is quite exciting. It will probably feel more like a home event than one on the other side by myself.”
Daines thoroughly enjoyed the experience of his first 4* last year. “It was just amazing. The people behind the event were so willing to help. The course is beautiful – there aren’t many venues you run through three parks right in the middle of a city. I think we crossed two main highways too. It is a cool venue and vibe.
Daines has done a lot more swimming preparation this year to ensure Spring Panorama is fit enough. “Last year I think he was just fit enough. This time I want to do the cross country and have enough power to get home inside time.”
It will be Felton’s first shot at a CCI4* and one she has long looked forward to. Felton’s fundraising has also been rather unique – she won a $5,000 AMP Scholarship, and went on to also win the $5000 AMP People’s Choice Award.
“It is a massive financial burden off my shoulders,” said Felton. “From the outside it can look like our sport is full of money and that we are doing just fine, when really, the bills come in thick and fast, and most of us struggle week to week to make it all work. If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it.” Felton says it would be a very tough ask without the support of sponsors and scholarships.
Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation are no stranger to 4* level. The combination, New Zealand’s best performed at the Rio Olympic Games in sixth place, were third at Adelaide in 2015 and last year fifth at Badminton. “This is a big one for us,” said Johnstone. “I am certainly aiming to win it, but possibly more important is to secure our qualification for WEG.”
Adelaide is an event he does enjoy. “It is testing in a different way because of the setting,” says Johnstone. “The course is right in the city so you ride through parklands, olive groves and rose gardens – it is quite a different feel to most courses. You need to be sharp and on your game all the way around. There are hardly any spaces where you can stand up over the neck and take a breath.”
The terrain and action didn’t necessarily suit his horse, who prefers an open and galloping course, but Johnstone says he had a great ride on him last time at Adelaide. “It’s a matter of getting to competitions in the best possible shape,” he says. “Fresh, fit and calm.”
He is rapt there is such a large and strong Kiwi contingent heading to the event. “It seems Adelaide is close but the horses have a long trip, including 10-12 hours in the truck, and it can be extremely hot.”
Thompson did a lot of out-of-the-box thinking to raise funds for the trip, including – rather aptly given the winter – a mud run. “It was so much fun,” says Thompson. She’s also been raffling off all sorts of goodies.
“It has been a hard winter to prep as I am sure everyone would agree. Adelaide will be a massive highlight for the season – as a course it should suite Paige (Star Nouveau) as she is fast and very adjustable. The course is quite twisty and turning which is tricky to make time on some types of horses, but hopefully that will be in our advantage.”
Edwards-Smith knew it was going to be an expensive affair to campaign to get two horses to Adelaide so decided the best way to do it was to sell a half share in one of their promising future 4* youngsters.
“That’s just what we did,” says Edwards-Smith. “It’s very exciting to secure him for us for the future this way.” As well as that she and partner Elise Edwards-Smith taught clinics all over the country throughout the winter, held a masterclass and had donations from friends. “We are really excited about this adventure and stoked to be joined by a DSE Tour Group of about 30 crazy supporters.”
Anyone keen to assist the riders with their fundraising for Adelaide should contact the riders individually.
The 4* cross country course has been designed by Mike Etherington-Smith (GBR).
There’s $120,000 in the prize purse for the 4* class, with 21 combinations on the card – more than double last year’s entries. Included in the line-up are the likes of Olympic medallist Stuart Tinney, Olympian and World Champs representative Wendy Schaeffer-MacDonald, and Beijing Olympic Games team silver medallists Megan Jones and Sonja Johnson.
Australia-based Kiwi Laura Wallace will be competing Van Heck and Black Crest in the CIC3* class.
The event was created in 1997 to replace the long-standing Gawler Horse Trials. It’s quite unique as it is hosted in the heart of the city, in Adelaide’s East Parklands.
Matthew Grayling aboard Revo is the only Kiwi combo to make the honour board, winning the 4* in 2001.
A large contingent of Kiwi supporters are expected at the event where the New Zealand HorsePower Working Group – comprising riders, owners, sponsors, breeders and ESNZ HP – will also have a supporters tent.
ESNZ high performance director Sarah Dalziell-Clout says it will be a place for riders to get together with sponsors and supporters during the event, but also showcase the thrill of eventing for those not so familiar with it.
The cross country and jumping will be screened on FEI TV. Adelaide is one of six events that make up the FEI Classics Series.
WHAT: Mitsubishi Motors Australian International 3 Day Event
WHEN: November 16-19, 2017
WHERE: Adelaide, Australia
MORE INFO: www.australian3de.com.au
LIVE STREAMING: FEI TV
The horse details:
Balmoral Sensation owned by the Johnstone Family
Tangolooma owned by Donna and Elise Edwards-Smith and Graham Smith
Mr Hokey Pokey owned by Elise Edwards
Star Nouveau owned by Virginia Thompson
Spring Panorama owned by Leanne and David Jensen and Andrew Daines
Ricker Ridge Pico Boo owned by Dale and Nanette Felton
Van Heck owned by the Selby Syndicate
Black Crest owned by the Selby Syndicate
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison