Balmoral Sensation is all class! Clarke Johnstone says he just has to steer the horse, but we know it is not that simple, and together the pair made some more magic and history today. They are the first to win three eventing Horse of the Year titles, having previously won in 2014 and 2016.
“He was really super, he felt very careful and he is so nice to ride,” says Clarke. “He has always been a really good jumper, I’m very lucky and very pleased to have jumped such a good round. He does find it quite easy.”
Ritchie had made the cross-country look easy too. “It is a real pleasure to ride him, he looks for the fences and gallops and jumps really easily,” Clarke says.
Ritchie will head to Europe later this year towards the end of his campaign to get to the World Equestrian Games in September, but he will have one more start in New Zealand before then. “Kihikihi is next, and then the Sydney Three-day Event. Yes, we are on track and very happy where Ritchie is at; it is just a matter of trying to keep everything in one piece. It’s a big year with a lot of travel, so I am trying to avoid having too many big runs.”
But this weekend it was all about their third Eventer of the Year win and they did make it look easy. Clarke had a rail in hand from Amanda Pottinger going into the show jumping, and Amanda gave him a little bit more leeway when she had one rail down on Just Kidding. That rail was an expensive one for her, and she dropped down to finish fourth. She had some consolation, however, as she did win the best presented / turned out combination in this class.
Clarke had also been in third place going into show jumping on his second horse, Wolf Whistle II, but had three rails down and finished in tenth place.
Abby Lawrence also had a rail in the show jumping, which relegated her from third to sixth.
This opened the door for Nick Brooks and For Fame to leap up into second place, thanks to a really good clear round.
For Nick, coming second to Clarke and Ritchie “feels like being first.” He is very pleased with his young horse, who was having his first start at three-star level. “He is cool, he is very brave and careful, and just goes,” says Nick. As for future plans, the immediate need was to have “lots of bubbles, although I do have to work tomorrow.” Plans from a competition point of view involve Kihikihi Horse Trials soon, although which class he was entering was still to be decided. “I am very careful, I like to take them up and then bring them back down after the first time, just to keep them confident. I would like to do the three-star at Taupo though.”
Nick thinks the horse has a big future and hopes that one day he may even go four-star on him. “He definitely feels like he has all the right skills to do a four-star, but it is a matter of keeping him sweet and keeping him going – but he is a very tough little horse.”
Nick also finished fourth on Versace C in show jumping’s Premier Stakes (1.45m), which capped off a day which included an exhilarating cross-country round on For Fame. “I had the most fun in the world. Versace makes you feel like a pretty good rider when he jumps like that. I am very very lucky with the two of them; they are just so fun.” Versace has also had many successes eventing and Nick didn’t rule out returning to that discipline with his horse. “I’m very much enjoying jumping him at the moment and he absolutely loves it, but equally he loves the cross-country too.”
|Dressage||XC faults||SJ Faults||Total|
|1||Clarke Johnstone||Balmoral Sensation||31.7||8.8||0||40.5|
|2||Nick Brooks||For Fame||35.7||13.2||0||48.9|
|3||Ashleigh Mckinstry||Pioneer Brass Monkey||37.9||11.2||0||49.1|
|4||Amanda Pottinger||Just Kidding||33.6||13.6||4||51.2|
|5||Donna Edwards-Smith||DSE Cluny||39.9||12||0||51.9|
|6||Abby Lawrence||Charlton Yamani||37.2||11.6||4||52.8|
|7||Samantha Felton||Ricker Ridge Escada||37.2||17.2||0||54.4|
|9||Renee Faulkner||Rubinstar HH||39.2||15.2||4||58.4|
|10||Clarke Johnstone||Wolf Whistle II||35.3||12.8||12||60.1|