ESNZ Eventing performance programme riders cleaned up the top three classes at the Puhinui International Horse Trials at the weekend.

From the Future Potential Recognition squad, Samantha Felton (Matangi) won the Honda NZ CCI3* aboard Ricker Ridge Divine Right and was third aboard Ricker Ridge Rui; with Amanda Pottinger (Havelock North) taking out the Veterinary Associates CCI1* on Good Timing. Sam was also second in the Auckland Council CCI2* aboard Ricker Ridge Riley. Talent Development Squad member Abby Lawrence (Te Puke) and Anonymous were the victors in the CCI2*, with Maddy Crowe (Hamilton) and Waitangi Pinterest second in the CCI3*.

High Performance director Sarah Dalziell-Clout paid tribute to the ESNZ eventing performance programme and all those that worked within it who have assisted in the development and growth of squad riders.

“It’s great to see some talented combinations coming through the grades and the performance standard of the upper-level classes rising,” said Sarah. “These have long-term drivers within the performance programme and the results are beginning to speak for themselves. The challenge for us all is to continue this momentum to close the gap to high performance so we can develop the depth required for future championships.”

The event was challenging from the get-go with dry ground a scarcity. Australian cross country designer Ewan Kellett’s course saw a shuffle up of the leaderboard and at the end of the day, Sam and Divine Right, the only combination in the field to come home clear and inside time, had taken the lead. Maddy was in second having added 10.8 time, with Sam and Rui adding 15.2 time to their tally. Retirements, eliminations, withdrawals and a vet out saw just five line up for the showjumping.

Future Potential Recognition squad member Nick Brooks (Cambridge) and For Fame were the only combination to come home clear and inside time in the showjumping, which saw them finish fourth. Sam and Rui were clear but with two time. Maddy had two down and winner Sam aboard Devine Right had a rail but with plenty in hand it didn’t matter.

She was ecstatic and only reinforced her goal of heading to the UK next year to compete and learn as much as she can. Her win at Puhinui was her first ever at the event although she has come close before, and her first at CCI3* level. “It was fantastic,” said the 27-year-old. “All that hard work is paying off.”

Sam said the conditions were tough not just for the horses and riders, but also the organising committee and sponsors. “I am very thankful the committee and sponsors were accommodating to allow for horse welfare to be paramount.”

The four faults in the showjumping with Divine Right had been completely her fault. “I knew I had at least two rails in hand and just got a little excited coming down the last line,” she said. “Rui was great – he could have gone a little quicker on the cross country and got a few less time faults the day before and maybe ended up second. Overall though I am over the moon.”
But it didn’t all go her way. She parted company at the water when Ricker Ridge Sooty GNZ stumbled on landing in the CCI2*. “He has been performing so well lately and was more of a sure bet than any of the others!”

Meanwhile, she’s got some tough decisions to make. Just how many horses she takes to the UK following the National3DE in May is a number that changes daily. She’s working hard on putting together owners and shareholders to help fund the mission so she can focus on high performance.

Abby Lawrence and Anonymous were never far from the podium throughout the CCI2* which attracted 25 entries. The combination were third after the dressage, and added nothing to the score in either the cross country or showjumping to finish on 32.3. Sam and Ricker Ridge Riley added 4.4 time in the cross country for 33.9. Sixteen combinations completed.

In the 35-strong CCI1*, Amanda Pottinger and Good Timing came from second in the dressage and cross country to take the win on 30.2, just 0.6 ahead of runner-up Monica Oakley (Karaka) and Festival. Twenty-seven combinations completed.

Other top 10 results from Future Potential Recognition squad members included a sixth for Amanda Pottinger and The Comedian in the CCI2* and sixth for Emily Cammock (Christchurch) aboard Antara in the CCI1*. Talent ID Squad member Vicky Browne-Cole (Waiuku) and Cutting Edge were eighth in the 1* with Beth Wilson (Papakura) and Alto et Audax were ninth in the 2*.

The ESNZ Eventing performance squads are currently being reviewed by high performance and performance selectors, with announcements likely in early 2019. “While ever-focused on the next championship (Tokyo 2020), the High Performance Programme also needs to continue to invest into our future generations of champions,” said Sarah Dalziell-Clout. “Performance such as we have seen at Puhinui are promising and provide further motivation for the entire team to work hard to create a pathway of support for our high performers of the future.”


By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ
December 10, 2018