Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation did not disappoint their fans on cross-country day at the Land Rover Horse of the Year today (Saturday), cruising round Chris Ross’s CIC3* course looking unhurried as usual, but producing the fastest time of the day. They incurred 8.8 time penalties for an overnight score of 40.5 penalties, extending the lead they had after the dressage, and now have a rail in hand.


Amanda Pottinger and Just Kidding held onto second place, adding 13.6 time penalties for an interim total of 47.2 penalties, marginally ahead of Clarke on Kate Wood’s Wolf Whistle II, who added 12.8 time penalties for an overnight score of 48.1, improving from fifth place after the dressage.


The big mover is Abby Lawrence on Charlton Yamani, who was seventh after the dressage, but leap-frogged sixth placed Nick Brooks on For Fame, having added 11.6 and 13.2 time penalties respectively, for interim totals of 48.8 and 48.9 penalties. Ashleigh McKinstry and Pioneer Brass Monkey leapt from tenth to sixth with the second fastest round, incurring 11.2 time penalties for a total score of 49.1.


So Sunday’s showjumping is going to be extremely tense, with less than 4 penalties, the cost of a rail down, separating the seven combinations behind Clarke and ‘Ritchie’.


There was one withdrawal following mild colic, one retirement and one elimination following refusals, and one 50 penalty score for jumping outside the line of the flag. This was confirmed by official video, which was placed at each fence likely to cause a problem, such as the corners and ‘skinnies,’ so no disputes arose as the competitors were able to view these videos afterwards.


Clarke said afterwards, “Both horses were very good. The extra effort that was made to improve the grounds was very much appreciated, especially the road crossings that had consolidated with use. The overnight rain helped too, but it is twisty and turny, and was measured very tightly, so difficult to make the time.”


The CIC2* horses did not handle their challenges so well, with three eliminations, one of which was missing a compulsory passage. Chanel Griffiths, who was lying third, fell when Astek Guardsman slipped turning in the premier arena early in the class, and Kate Herdson was lucky not to be rolled on when Eon fell at the middle element of the first water.


Abby Lawrence leads on Anonymous after adding 7.2 time penalties to their second placed dressage score for a total of 34.2, while Fleur Rohleder leapt from tenth to second on The Alchemist after adding 9.2 time penalties, to finish the day on 44 penalties. Dressage leaders Samantha Felton and Ricker Ridge Sooty GNZ incurred 19.6 time penalties for a total of 46.3 penalties.


Interim scores after cross-country:


Clarke Johnstone, Matangi, Balmoral Sensation, 40.4;

Amanda Pottinger, Havelock Nth, Just Kidding, 47.2;

Clarke Johnstone, Wolf Whistle II, 48.1;

Abby Lawrence, Te Puke, Charlton Yamani, 48.8;

Nick Brooks, Cambridge, For Fame, 48.9;

Ashleigh McKinstry, Taumarunui, Pioneer Brass Monkey, 49.1


Abby Lawrence, Anonymous, 34.2;

Fleur Rohleder, Hamilton, The Alchemist, 44;

Samantha Felton, Matangi, Ricker Ridge Sooty GNZ, 46.3;

Sophie Alexander, Auckland, World Famous, 48.8;

Rebel Morrow, Australia, Balmoral Henton, 50.1;

Isaac Twigg, Waipukurau, The Juggler, 50.6


Virginia Caro