Seeing things through to completion seems to be a Samantha Felton trait and so she got a great deal of satisfaction this weekend when she was able to complete the box set of national one day event titles. Sam had to win the three-star title to achieve her goal of winning them all and she did that easily riding Ricker Ridge Escada.
Showing little emotion as she left the arena after having had two fences down, Sam wanted to wait until the judges confirmed she had won before acquiescing to do at least a little fist pump to celebrate. As to other celebrations, she hadn’t even thought of what she might do.
“He was a little flat in there. Yesterday he just owned that course. Our goal today was to finish show jumping rather than worry about celebrating, but perhaps we will go out for dinner or something.”
Sam had won the 105, one star and two star titles on Henton After Dark, in 2010 (Tait Trophy), 2012 (Ferndale Trophy), and 2013 (Waiteko Trophy). Henton After Dark has been sold to China but Sam has other stars in her stable now, including three at three-star level.
Ricker Ridge Escada (‘Toby’) was the star-of-the-weekend at Kihikihi however Sam’s other three-star entry, Ricker Ridge Divine Right also put in a great effort for her first start at this level, finishing seventh.
Sam has done most of the development work on 11-year-old Toby herself, acquiring him when he was just five years old. John Twomey had laid the good foundations, including competing Toby in his first few pre-novice events.
Always having confidence in her “grumpy old man”, Sam describes Toby as a quiet achiever who is a real workman. “He’s always worked like a professional,” she said. Toby came off the track, was bred by the Pike family and his sire is Tobougg.
His work ethic and jumping ability means that Sam really rates him. “I 100% think that he is a four-star horse. This track has been described as a three-and-a-half-star one. He has definitely proved he has got the goods. “
When that four-star will happen remains to be seen as Sam said she “will have to sell something to go overseas.” Sam had a short campaign with Toby and her other three-star horse, Ricker Ridge Pico Boo in Australia late last year and the experience she gained then has certainly stood her in good stead since. Pico Boo didn’t start at Kihikihi as Sam didn’t think it was his best preparation for the Melbourne Three Day Event. “He’ll do Central Districts instead,” she said. Sam can only afford to take one horse to Melbourne, should the selectors give her the nod for the Oceania team. “I’m broke. I will have to borrow some money off Mum and Dad to take just one!”
The selectors are due to announce their long list shortly, and will finalise the team after the Central District event at the end of the month.
On hand to help his pupils as part of the squad development was showjumping guru, Jeff McVean. He was full of praise for Sam’s attitude, saying that she was so keen to learn, and therefore was a great pupil to teach.
Sam had been sixth after dressage, but pulled up into first place after the cross country, when many fell by the wayside. There were only seven competitors in the show jumping phase out of the original field of 17. Abbey Lawrence’s Song was spun at the Sunday morning vet check, and Ashleigh Mckinstry got through after working most of the night to get her Pioneer Brass Monkey through after he cut his foot. She completed the show jumping with one rail and finished in sixth place.
Andy Daines had been in second place after cross country but the 11 faults in the show jumping meant he dropped down to third place, but was still very pleased with the result on his “Perfect Pete” – aka Spring Panorama. The pair certainly seemed to have gained a lot of confidence since their completion in the four-star at Adelaide last year and are aiming for more four-stars with Adelaide and perhaps Kentucky in their sights.
Andy’s showjumping faults meant Bundy Philpott moved into second place, a great result for her horse Tresca NZPH who was only doing his second three-star competition. Bundy had incurred just two time faults in the showjumping round to add to her clear round cross country with 23.2 time faults. “I am the Queen of Slow,” she said. “I was a little cautious but not a single person here will be surprised it was me who got the show jumping time faults.”
Nonetheless, she was full of smiles when talking about her horse. “I am so lucky to have him. He has really stepped up to the mark,” Bundy said afterwards. “He is a genuine and honest horse and he really jumped today.” As to what was in the future for the pair, Bundy said she needed to sit down with her coach, Christine Weal, and make a plan. “The horse is only young, so we are not sure yet what will be next but he came out of his box bouncing today!”
The result was also a significant personal achievement for Bundy who had broken her pelvis and had considerable nerve damage when she had a bad fall at Taupo in 2014. This was her first three star competition since that fall. “I spend a lot of time at the gym and at the physio but am relatively pain free, which is great considering the injuries I incurred.”
Bundy is also the riders representative on the ESNZ Eventing Board and is very well respected by all the riders as a result of her dedication to the role.
Chloe Phillips-Harris also earned a lot of respect with her and Cor Jet’s performance this weekend. Both horse and rider had considerable time off with injuries in the last couple of years so to come out and finish fourth was quite an achievement, especially as they hadn’t had many runs this season.
Chair of the 3 star ground jury, Les Smith, singled Chloe out as the star performer for her ride on cross country. “She rode boldly forward, saw her lines and went for it,” he said afterwards.
Only Chloe and Sarah Dalziel-Clout jumped clear under the time in the show jumping. Sarah finished fifth after adding 20 cross country jump penalties and time faults to her dressage score.
There is always a lot to talk about after cross country at Kihikihi, but one topic that caused a lot of discussion was the new FEI rule about flags. Until recently, jumping outside a flag on cross country resulted in elimination if it was not corrected. Riders were permitted to stop and ask the fence judge if they had made it inside the flag and could re-present for 20 penalties.
The new rules are that missing or jumping outside a flag incurs 50 jumping penalties, not elimination. Asking for clarification from the fence judge is now considered unathorised assistance and is not permitted. If riders don’t know whether or not they have made it inside the flag (often the case with skinnies), they have two choices. They can continue on and risk incurring 50 penalties if the officials determine the horse’s shoulders were not inside the flag or they can re-present to the jump (or jump an option if there is one) and incur 20 penalties plus the probable time faults which would come with doing the jump again.
This new rule resulted in quite a lot of work for the Ground Jury at Kihikihi and there were penalties awarded and then taken away after protest, and a number of confused fence judges, riders and spectators (and media people). There was also the suggestion that those event organisers who wanted to have a good number of competitors left to show jump in front of sponsors on the final day may well suggest to course builders that skinnies (ie narrow fences) would not be welcomed. We are picking this rule may well be the subject of far more debate as the Northern Hemisphere season really gets underway and at ESNZ’s technical committee. At this stage the rule only has to be implemented in FEI classes, there are still options to run under the old rules for other classes.
Waipa Home of Champions CIC3* Forest Gate Trophy Championship: Samantha Felton (Cambridge) Ricker Ridge Escada 77.2 penalty points 1, Bundy Philpott (Cambridge) Tresca NZPH 81.4 2, Andy Daines (Kumeu) Spring Panorama 90.1 3, Chloe Phillips-Harris (Kerikeri) Cor Jet 92.1 4, Sarah Dalziell-Clout (Masterton) Benrose Super Star 98.5 5, Ashleigh McKinstry (Owhango) Pioneer Brass Monkey 103.6 6.