In Disguise may be an unassuming bay who you could easily walk past as he stands in the paddock, but when Clarke Johnstone gets him out jumping, he seems to grow in stature, and boy, can he jump! He made short work of the Kihikihi fences, whether they were cross-country or show jumping ones.
He deservedly won the Wade Equine Coaches CIC 1* and therefore the Ferndale Salver Trophy and the title of National 1* champion, which goes well with his national title won in 2014 at the 105 level.
Clarke’s goal with the horse now is to “do the double” and win the one-star three-day event championship which is up for grabs at Taupo in May.
Janene Maxwell owns and bred ‘Zac’, and he is out of the same mare as Incognito, who Clarke rode around Burghley in 2011, jumping clear and finishing 17th. Zac is out of Flow Gate, a New Zealand thoroughbred (by Trustful), by EuroSport Centavos (by Escudo). While Janene wasn’t at Kihikihi to see her horse win, Clarke is hoping she can make it to Taupo where Zac already has a good record, having been placed third in the National Young Event Horse Championship previously.
Zac made easy work of the show jumping track, having competed at HOY recently in the seven-year-old series, taking just one rail in the first round of the 1.35 class.
Clarke himself has a good track record in this event, having won it in 2006 on Orient Express and in 2014 on Quainton Labyrinth. “Winning a national title is always special,” he says.
He and Zac were second after dressage, 2.2pen behind Dannie Lodder and Eye Spy who had a few time faults across country and finished third overall. Dannie, who was limping all weekend after injuring her foot prior to the event, looks like she has a good prospect with Heather Cato’s Eye Spy who returned from the UK at Christmas and is still getting acclimatised. “He’s starting to pick up now,” Dannie says. “We are taking our time with him.”
She has been concentrating on some retraining with the horse, especially through water jumps. “He was stalling a bit, so we’ve been trying a new avenue and it seems to be working!” He had no issues with the water at Kihikihi, that’s for sure. He tapped a few in the show jumping, but as Dannie said as she left the arena, “You gotta have some luck sometimes!”
Samantha Felton also seems to have a future star in Ricker Ridge Sooty GNZ, who was second in the class. He jumped well in both phases and added just 0.4 to his dressage score. Sam is in no hurry with this horse, however. “We will consolidate his performance at one-star as this is only his third start at this level. We will just keep trucking on!” She aims to take him to the Taupo three-day event.
Angela Lloyd and Lyrical finished fourth, on their dressage score. Along with Clarke and Angela, only three others achieved this feat – Isaac Twigg and The Juggler (eighth), Shannon Galloway and Day Walker (ninth), and Beth Wilson with Alto et Audax (12th).
Clarke Johnstone (Matangi) In Disguise 40.9, 1; Samantha Felton (Matangi) Ricker Ridge Sooty GNZ 42.8, 2; Dannie Lodder (Auckland) Eye Spy 43.5, 3; Angela Lloyd (Hunua) 43.8, 4; Kate Herdson, (Auckland) Eon 47.5, 5; Madison Crowe (Hamilton) Lucius GNZ 53.1, 6.