Clarke Johnstone rides Balmoral Sensation, Land Rover Horse of the Year 2020, HB A&P Showgrounds, Hastings, Hawke’s Bay, Thursday, March 12, 2020 Credit: KAMPIC / Kerry Marshall

It was the luck of the last for Clarke Johnstone aboard Balmoral Sensation with the final combination in the Land Rover Horse of the Year CCI4* setting the bar for the remainder of the week.


Currently sitting on a penalty score of just 31.4, the combination are narrowly ahead of Havelock North’s Amanda Pottinger on 32.2 and other Olympic hopeful Maddy Crowe on 32.8, with the show jumping and cross country on Saturday still to contest.


The three top eventing Olympic hopefuls are making their final New Zealand appearance at the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show this week before heading to the UK to further their bid for Tokyo.


Olympic focused Clarke and Balmoral Sensation have already qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but Clarke is aiming to qualify his second thoroughbred Aces High who finished just in behind the leaders with a respectable fourth in the dressage phase on a penalty score of 32.4.


It’s capped off a solid start to the week for the Matangi based rider who finished third on Balmoral Sensation in the Horse 1.30m on Tuesday, while Aces High finished close behind in sixth.