The weather was wonderful for cross-country day at the Land Rover Horse of the Year and the crowds who came in big numbers to watch the action would not have been disappointed. The CCI3*-S ran first to warm things up, and then the real drama started with the CCI4*-S.


First to go, Donna Edwards-Smith and DSE Mr Hokey Pokey fell at the third element of fence five, the combination in the main arena, and while Yogi got up and was led away, Donna was not moved for some time. [She was taken to Hastings Hospital for a scan and has been cleared.]


Monica Oakley followed on Acrobat and the action flowed thereafter, with the Land Rover Burghley Brushes proving a problem for many, including third placed Jackson Bovill and Visionnaire, who retired there after two run-offs.


Madison Crowe and Waitangi Pinterest were on a mission, finishing with 7.6 time penalties for a final score of 35.7 penalties, and retained top spot initially. Blyth Tait had a great ride on Chloe Phillips-Harris’s Cor Jet, adding 12.8 time penalties for a final score of 48.8 and second place.


Blyth said afterwards, “I couldn’t have had a better catch ride, Chloe’s done a fantastic job, I just had to kick and steer,” which was an under statement of course. Chloe herself was ecstatic, saying, “It was fantastic, he looked as happy with Blyth as he feels with me.”


Amanda Pottinger and Just Kidding went like a scalded cat to finish with 2 time penalties and were initially given 15 jump penalties for knocking a flag at the stump in the second water complex, which was subsequently removed, relegating Maddy to second and Blyth to third.


Nick Brooks improved dramatically with For Fame, moving from sixteenth to fourth with a lovely round which earned 5.2 time penalties, while Bundy Philpott and Tresca NZPH looked impressive with 14.4 time penalties for fifth.


Samantha Lissington looked professional as always on Ricker Ridge Rui, 11.6 time penalties seeing them finish sixth. Tim Price looked like the top international rider he is on Sam’s RR Escada, delivering the second fastest time of the day, 4.4 penalties, despite a run-off in the treble combination in the leaf pit.


Jonelle did not have such a good run with RR Divine Right, pulling a shoe and retiring half way round the course, which was disappointing, but the courage shown by these top internationals in tackling this demanding course on catch rides cannot be over stated.


The CCI3* was won by Sam on Ricker Ridge Sooty GNZ, Blyth having had a run-out with a “rusty” Havanna, who was having her first start for six months, having moved hemispheres during that time, and “needing a run.” Their next start will be at Kihikihi.


Monica Oakley was second on Festival, her third ride in the class, and the only horse inside the time, with Amanda Pottinger third on The Comedian, Louise Mulholland fourth on Mr McTaggart, Monica fifth on Man of Honour, and Samantha Mynott sixth on Ipso Facto. Jock Paget rode Sam’s RR Riley into seventh spot ahead of Monica again on Artist.


Virginia Caro