Huge day of excellent cross country action at Kihikihi

As predicted, Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation lead the Waipa Home of Champions CIC3* class after the cross country, but Donna Edwards-Smith and DSE Tangolooma are less than a rail behind them, and are threatening to "hunt them down!"

Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation gave a masterclass in cross country (Image: Libby Law Photography)

There was a huge day of cross country at the Kihikihi International Horse Trials which started at 8am and went practically non-stop until the last of the 270 horses entered crossed the finish flags at 4.30pm.

Of course there were thrills and spills, and one of the main thrills for the good crowd there was seeing Balmoral Sensation eat the course, making it look like a cruise in the park. Ears pricked, a consistent steady pace, and very direct lines, Clarke and Ritchie looked like the perfect pair, with the crowd appreciating every stride.

The time wasn’t achieved however, by Clarke or any of the other competitors in the Waipa Home of Champions CIC3* class. Clarke and Ritchie had 5.6 time faults to their dressage score, taking the pair’s score to 36.4pen.

“He went really nicely. There were a few places that I was a bit cautious thanks to my hand,” said Clarke who is currently nursing a broken finger. “It was about as fast as we could go.”

Clarke Johnstone, Balmoral Sensation enjoying their round (Image: Jane Thompson)

Giving him no breathing room after recording the fastest round of the day is Donna Edwards-Smith on DSE Tangalooma, sitting on 39.9pen after the 5.2 time faults had been added to her dressage score.  Donna and “Bones” were most impressive, especially in the earlier parts of the course taking the sharpest and most direct of lines.

Donna Edwards-Smith, DSE Tangalooma cut all the corners

She was obviously out to do as best as she could, and she confirmed afterwards that she did her utmost to head Clarke off. Having being very involved in Ritchie’s earlier development years, Donna knows the horse well, and joked with his breeder, David Goodin, that “I am going to hunt your cross-bred horse down today,” knowing full well that sitting on her full thoroughbred gave her a speed advantage today. Bones is by Align, an Australian thoroughbred and out of the unusually named Hilda Hippo who hails from the USA.

Donna Edwards-Smith and DSE Tangolooma during the Waipa Home of Champions CIC 3* Forest Gate Trophy Championship Cross Country. (Image: Libby Law Photography)

Another rider who rode superbly and went as fast as she could was Abigail Long and Enzo who sit on 47.2pen after cross country (9.6 time faults) and in third place. “I tried so hard to get the time, but I was still over. He was really good, it was only our fourth three-star together.”  Abi was one of only two riders who got the inside turn after Heather’s House, which even Clarke couldn’t achieve. The only other rider to get that tricky turn was Renee Faulkner on Rubinstar HH who were very impressive on course, one of the stand-out rounds and are in fourth place on a score of 47.5.

Abigail Long and Enzo had a great round (Image:  Libby Law Photography)

Heelan Tompkins and Snow Leopard are in fifth place on 48.4 and also impressed with their round. Jessica Woods was delighted with her mare Just de Manza (48.7) who have finished in 6th place after the cross country. “I just love this mare,” she enthused on finishing the course.

Heelan Tompkins and Snow Leopard did a great job on course today (Image: Jane Thompson)

Nick Brooks was having his second start at three-star level on For Fame, and put in a great round, and while he incurred 11.2 time faults, he was positively fizzing afterwards. “OMG, we had so much fun. He went around the whole thing like he walked the course and knew what was happening!”

Nick Brooks and For Fame impressed today (Image: Jane Thompson)

In fact the standard of performance of the field today was very high, with only two of the 13-strong field not finishing, and nine having no jumping faults including Kate Fleming on Mendelsshon, who had a very fast round and Bundy Philpott and Tresca NZPH. Bundy said Tresca was a bit tired at the end. “He picked up a virus at the Horse of the Year show and we only decided to come on Tuesday.”

Clarke described the course as perhaps easier than in previous years although last year was competing Ritchie at two-star level as they built back up after their post-Olympic rest.  “That is not a bad thing. Sometimes it is a 3* plus.”  He also complimented the ground conditions, which contributed to such a good result.

The Weatherbeeta CIC2* class (Waiteko Trophy Championship) was also a good display of cross country riding with nearly half of the field jumping clear.  Last year’s Waiteko Trophy winner has emerged the leader after cross country today after posting the only round under time. Brook Campbell and Freddy Dash looked very accomplished on the course. “He likes the ground here, and we got the time easier this year than last,” said Brooke, who have stayed on their dressage score. It is the pair’s third time doing the two-star at Kihikihi, and Brooke’s trainer, Donna Edwards-Smith, suggested that next year here the combination would be in the three-star.

Brooke Campbell and Freddy Dash lead the way in the two-star class (Image: Libby Law Photography)

In second place is Diane Gilder on Your Attorney, who has stepped down a level for this event. “He was a little hairy at times,” said Diane. “He hasn’t been the bravest this season, but it was good to have him wanting to go today.”

Danni Lodder leads the way in two classes. She retained her lead in the Wade Equine Coaches CIC1* for the Ferndale Trophy with a clear round on Lexington and under the time, a feat achieved by another ten competitors in this class. Kelsey Leahy and Showcause and Monica Oakley on Festival were tied for ninth after dressage and now they are tied for second after both blitzed the course, adding nothing to their dressage scores.

Dannie Lodder, Lexington

Danni also leads the Carlton Party Hire CNC105 Open B on Money Shot, and Megan Finlayson retained her lead in the Pryde’s EasiFeed CNC 1* on Greensleeves.

Megan Finlayson, Greensleeves

Another to hold their lead from the dressage phase is Angela Lloyd on Raucous in the JLT CNC 105 Tait Trophy Championship, as has Eden Doull on Noble Value in the Vosper Law CNC105 Restricted. Jessica Woods on LV Encostalot now lead the Prestige CNC105 Open A class.

Angela Lloyd, Raucous, leads the JLT CNC 105 Tait Trophy after cross country

Results after cross country and more photos below:

Waipa Home of Champions CIC 3* Forest Gate Trophy Championship
1 Clarke Johnstone Balmoral Sensation 36.4
2 Donna Edwards-Smith DSE Tangolooma 39.9
3 Abigail Long Enzo 47.2
4 Renee Faulkner Rubinstar HH 47.5
5 Heelan Tompkins Snow Leopard 48.4
Weatherbeeta CIC2* – Waiteko Trophy Championship
1 Brooke Campbell Freddy Dash 34.4
2 Diane Gilder Your Attorney 36.5
3 Elise Power Arctic Cielo 37
4 Stephanie Vervoort X Factor 39.3
5 Kimberley Rear Delta Legacy 40
Wade Equine Coaches CIC 1* Ferndale Trophy Championship
1 Dannie Lodder Lexington 28.4
2 Kelsey Leahy Showcause 31.6
2 Monica Oakley Festival 31.6
4 Christen Lane Henton Armada 32.4
5 Madeline Banks Aruko Razzamatazz 33.1
Pryde’s EasiFeed CNC 1*
1 Megan Finlayson Greensleeves 22.6
2 Jeffrey Amon JA Take a Shot 24.8
3 Cherie Jaques Black Gem 26.4
4 Megan Hart Hot Ginger 27.4
5 Jane Callaghan Weiti West End 29.3
JLT CNC 105 Tait Trophy Championship
1 Angela Lloyd Raucous 29.4
2 Jessica Woods Kings Soleil 29.5
3 Donna Edwards-Smith DSE Sagacious 29.8
4 Sophie Wilkinson Astek Gravitate 29.9
5 Sofie Boswell Anastasia 31.2
Vosper Law CNC105 Restricted
1 Eden Doull Noble Value 22.5
2 Charlotte Robertson Sirocco Venus Rising 26.2
3 Mary Matthews Hes A Gem 31
4 Alyssa Harrison Da Vinci Code 31.2
5 Jacinda Baker-Singh Mr Parkes 32.2
Prestige CNC105 Open A
1 Jessica Woods LV Encostalot 31.5
2 Danielle Wheeler Pierre 32.5
2 Amy Parker Airthey Debt Collecter 32.5
4 Sophie Alexander Saltador 33.2
5 Alena Dorotich Knoxville 33.5
Carlton Party Hire CNC105 Open B
1 Dannie Lodder Money Shot 32.7
2 Greer Caddigan Gymnastik Showdown 34
3 Jonathan Paget Bing Bong 37.4
4 Mitty Forsyth Illustrious 38.3
5 Rebecca Davey Playalong 39.2