It’s official – we are the Oceania Champions! In an ever-darkening afternoon at the Saddleworld Melbourne International Three-day Event, the senior New Zealand eventing team delivered show jumping rounds to be proud of, while the Australian team only fielded two riders, despite all three remaining team members passing the trot-up.
Jock finished with a clear round inside the time on Angus Blue to add the Pryde’s Easifeed CCI3* title to his list of international trophies, also winning the Off The Track award for former thoroughbred racehorses in the process. Angus Blue (Senor Pete/Lady Lyttleton/Waikiki Star) raced in the South Island prior to his present career; he and Jock finished on their dressage score of 46.9 penalties.
The London Olympian says the victory is a special one. “It is special for lots of reasons. It was just great to ride with the other guys in the team, and for me, a good way to come home.”
It is the first time Jock has even ridden in the trans-Tasman competition, and this is the first time in a decade that the senior New Zealand team has won.
He is understandably chuffed with his gorgeous and talented Angus Blue. “He really got up, didn’t he?” he says of the nine-year-old, who moved back from the UK with him last year, and now has next year’s World Equestrian Games firmly in his sights.
Fellow Kiwi Samantha Felton was clear show jumping on Ricker Ridge Pico Boo, moving up to second place when Virginia Thompson had a rail and two time penalties with Star Nouveau.
Ginny was nudged off the podium by Australia’s Andrew Cooper on his non-team horse, Tasman Park Ovation, who also took the Best Performed Mare prize.
Last year’s winner, Stuart Tinney on the NZ-bred War Hawk (Ramirez/Connie/Wohler II), added a time penalty but remained in fifth spot behind Ginny. There were 10 clear rounds from the 18 remaining competitors, but four of them incurred time penalties.
The discard score for New Zealand, Andy Daines, had two rails and a time penalty with Spring Panorama but still rose one place in the rankings to finish 17th.
Trainer Jeff McVean, who has been with the team all weekend, was delighted with them, saying, “They were very professional,” while Penny Castle, who is much more than the dressage coach, confided, “I must say I’m a little bit proud.”
Likewise, team vet Alec Jorgensen is passionately involved, loathe to take any credit, but an integral part of the team.
Meanwhile the Australian Young Riders added one rail between them, while the New Zealanders had a rail each, but retained their positions, Abigail Long and Enzo finishing sixth and Vicki Browne-Cole and Eli eighth. Jackson Bovill moved up a place, so they acquitted themselves well.
Andrew Barnett completed the Horseware Ireland CCI2* on his dressage score, leading from go to whoa, with Aussie Young Riders second (Gemma Tinney on Annapurna), fourth (Shanae Lowings on Venture Sky High), and fifth (Olivia Barton on APH Bertie Bad). Third place went to Amanda Ross on Koko Popping Candy.
There will be celebrations in the Kiwi camp tonight!
The NZ senior team was supported by Equestrian Entries, and the YR team by Bomber Bits NZ and Hidez NZ; the sponsorship is hugely appreciated.