Rio Olympian Clarke Johnstone headed home a quality field in a very competitive Equissage Horse Grand Prix at the Taranaki Equestrian Jumping Show.
Of the 33 starters, 11 came back for the jump-off over the Philippa Howells-designed course. Clarke and his 11-year-old former eventer Quainton Labyrinth were mid-field and took a real risk cutting inside the gazebo mid track . . . but it paid off. “I thought it looked quite risky but I wanted to win so we had to give it a go,” said the 31-year-old from Matangi. Once he had shown the field it could be done, several followed suit with mixed results. The top six were all double clear with Clarke coming home in 39.91 seconds with the second-placed Annabel Francis (Taupo) and Carado GHP in 40.02, third place-getter Claudia Hay (Tokoroa) and Euro Sports Centavos in 40.4 and fourth place-getter Lily Tootill (Karaka) aboard Rosthwaite Ballet in 41.04.
“It was a great class,” said Clarke, who had three in the starting line-up but frustratingly the other two both had the last fence down in the opening round. “The courses were good all weekend and the jump-offs super-fast in many classes.”
It was a good show for Clarke with all his horses jumping well and he also picked up the points prize.
He bought Quainton Labyrinth in the UK as a rising five-year-old eventer. Together they placed fifth in the prestigious Burghley Young Event class (2013) and later that year headed home to New Zealand where in 2014 they won the New Zealand 1* One Day Eventing Champs.
However, Clarke gave the horse six months off to try and halt a head shaking issue which has improved over the past four years but meant a halt to his eventing career.
“Luckily jumping was an option.” And a very good option it has been. The Grand Prix victory in Taranaki was their second, and they have also placed second in the FEI World Cup (NZ) series and were recently third in the final.
“I certainly think this horse has got plenty of ability but it has been a little frustrating at times when we have tended to have one down,” says Clarke. “It has spoilt a lot of results but he has also jumped quite a lot of clear rounds and really feels he knows what he is doing.”
Clarke plans to start the horse in the Olympic Cup before shifting his attention back to eventing where he has Tokyo in his sights. “I have enjoyed my season off eventing but I am ready to get back into it now.”
In the Country TV Pony Grand Prix the jump-off became a head-to-head between local riders Parys Marshall aboard Spot You Later and Karis Spurway on Delta Le Camouflage. Both girls picked up four faults each but Parys’ 41.87 second effort comfortably took the victory in the 14-strong class.
The Taranaki show ran over three days in excellent conditions.
Equissage Horse Grand Prix: Clarke Johnstone (Matangi) Quainton Labyrinth 1, Annabel Francis (Taupo) Carado GHP 2, Claudia Hay (Tokoroa) Euro Sport Centavos 3, Lily Tootill (Karaka) Rosthwaite Ballet 4, Nakeysha Lammers (Taranaki) Resolution 5, Julie Davey (Napier) CentaRoc 6.
Country TV Pony Grand Prix: Parys Marshall (Taranaki) Spot You Later 1, Karis Spurway (New Plymouth) Delta Le Camouflage 2, Samantha Carrington (Takapau) Colours of Lansing 3, Olivia Apatu (Havelock North) Bush Pacman 4, Katie Readings (Pukekawa) Circus Girl 5, Aimee Collinson (Clevedon) Moonlight Glow 6.
FMG Young Rider Series: Libby James (Cambridge) CoDicea 1, Nicola Hammond (Cambridge) Carlo I 2, Ike Baker (Pauatahanui) Hawkesdale Mahe 3, Annabel Francis (Taupo) Carado GHP 4, Blake Davis (Palmerston North) Giggles 5, Nicholas O’Leary (Wanganui) Centaire 6.
Dunstan Horsefeeds and EquiFibre Junior Rider Series: Samantha Carrington (Takapau) Double J Breeze On 1, Tim Wilson (Waipukurau) McMillans Tipsey 2, Ike Baker (Pauatahanui) NW Conrado 3, Isabella Narracci (Hawke’s Bay) Benrose Rockstar 4, Kimberley Carrington (Takapau) Double J Barmaid 5, Jessica Collinson (Clevedon) Bunny Hop 6.
Main-Events University Challenge Series: Laura Hilhorst (Hamilton) LC Underberg 1, Ike Baker (Pauatahanui) NW Conrado 2, Brigette Smith (Mangaweka) HR Larnado 3, Lola Slaughter (Wellington) Scenario 4, Nicholas Beal (Pukekohe) FIS Outrageous 5.
Hinterland Amateur Rider Series: Karla Jamieson (Stratford) Westamour 1, Caitlyn Horton (New Plymouth) Sirocco Sapphire 2, Tanya Hansen (Taranaki) Caption NZPH 3, Victoria Grey (Hawera) Shady Grey 4, Vanessa Brownie (Otaki) Saltaire Andys Boy 5, Tracy Bublitz (Taranaki) Bublitz Estate RoseZ 6.
Dunstan Horsefeeds and EquiFibre Pro-Amateur Rider Series: Emma Gaze (Ohaupo) Fire Bug 1, Emma Gaze (Ohaupo) Kowhai Bug 2, Sally Clark (Dannevirke) Victoria’s Secret 3, Karen Riddle (Rotorua) LC Unforgettable 4, Lucy Fell (Palmerston North) Big & Rich 5, Tessa Ranger (Tamahere) Lavello 6.
Matthews Hanoverians Seven-Year-Old Series: Jesse Linton (Hastings) Vitess 1, Annabel Francis (Taupo) Cherokee NZPH 2, Robert Steele (Dannevirke) Two Eye See 3, Lucy Fell (Palmerston North) Big and Rich 4, Clarke Johnstone (Matangi) Watermill Hadley 5, Daniel Webb (Hunterville) Centaur 6.
Mitavite Speedi-Beet Six-Year-Old Series: Logan Massie (Dannevirke) Double J Kelvin, Jesse Linton (Hastings) LT Holst Elsbeth, Sally Clark (Dannevirke) Sun Flake, Phillip Steiner (Tauranga) Cassina Dior, Daniel Webb (Hunterville) Constellation, Lily Tootill (Karaka) Domino NZPH and Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) Clearview =1.
East Coast Performance Horses Five-Year-Old Series: Nicola Hammond (Cambridge) Enya NZPH, Lizzie Green (Hamilton) Corona Xtreme and Georgia Massie (Dannevirke) Jay-Z GNZ =1.
Dr Feelgood Area Teams Competition (fourth round): Northern Hawke’s Bay (Ike Baker on Vidal NZPH, Jesse Linton on Vitess and Helen Kippen on Velocity NZPH) 1, Central Districts (Daniel Webb on Cardo, Katharine Van Tuyl on Centavino and Nicholas O’Leary on Centaire) 2, Central/Southern Hawke’s Bay (Doug Isaacson on Elmo, Maurice Beatson on Central Park and Robert Steele on Delta Blue) 3, Taranaki (Tim Myers on Surreal, Sophie Fourie on Detailed MSH and Kimberley Mason on Damiana) 4. Leaderboard (after four rounds): Northern Hawke’s Bay 16 points 1, Longridge Central Hawke’s Bay 15 2, Waikato 11 3, EquiFibre Bay of Plenty 9 4, Central Districts 6 5, Maxlife Batteries Waitemata 1 and Screen Art Taranaki 1 =6.
By Diana Dobson
January 28, 2019