It’s true that you can’t beat Puhinui on a good day. But it’s also true, unfortunately, that Puhinui after several weeks of torrential rain is anything but good – for dressage especially.
Though the sun shone today and there was a decent breeze too, trying to get any sort of decent test in six inches of unforgiving clay bog is impossible, and seemed deeply unfair on the riders, the judges, and most of all, the horses. And it wasn’t correct to say at least everyone was in the same boat, as the going deteriorated significantly with each and every test.
The two-star riders slogged through the atrocious mud in the main arena in the morning, after which the sensible decision was made to assemble an arena on dry land for the three-stars at the far end of the cross-country course.
The judges, Nikki Herbert (GBR) and locals Bill Phiskie and Jenny Draper were mostly in accord for the Honda NZ CCI3*, all three putting Madison Crowe and Waitangi Pinterest into first place on an average score of 70.13% for 29.9pen.
Matthew Grayling was second with both Bill and Jenny, but he and NRM Trudeau did not find favour with the UK visitor, who had them seventh of the 11 starters. Still, that was enough for them to hold second place overnight, on a penalty score of 31.7.
Emily Cammock and Shaw Lee sit third on 32, and will be aiming to make amends for their disappointment in Adelaide last month, while Sam Felton is fourth on Ricker Ridge Rui and eighth on Ricker Ridge Divine Right.
Event secretary Diane Gilder and Your Attorney are fifth, and Donna Edwards-Smith holds sixth place on DSE Cluny and ninth on DSE Tangolooma. Kirsty Sharapoff is seventh with Shoot the Breeze, and Corey Wood 10th with Pick Up Line. The scores are all extremely close though, with just 7.7pen separating first from 11th (Nick Brooks and For Fame), so it will all come down to the challenge that new course designer, Ewan Kellett (AUS) has set for them tomorrow.
The rumour has it that Sam Felton was canny enough to train in the mud this week, and if so, it certainly paid off in the Auckland Council CCI2*, as she holds both first and second positions after dressage, on Ricker Ridge Riley and Ricker Ridge Sooty GNZ.
Abby Lawrence is third on Anonymous, and Monica Oakley fourth on Acrobat and fifth on Man of Honour.
The dressage for the Vet Associates CCI* was moved from the main arena to near the cross-country warm-up, but the going up there wasn’t much of an improvement.
Emily Cammock holds the overnight lead on Antara, with 29.8, Muzi Pottinger is second on Good Timing, and Monica third on Festival.
In the NZ Horse & Pony CCN105, Tim Bruce and his lovely big Weiti Station-bred Tana, owned by Campbell Mitchell, have secured the overnight lead, on 32.1pen. Sophie Wilkinson is second on Astek Gampardo, and Kelli Frewin third on Phoenican Zatalk.
The poor CCN95cm riders had arguably the worst of the arenas, with all-but impossible going. Eleisha Williams and Daimler Benz are first on 29.8, while Dannie Lodder is second on Just Saying and third on Methuselah.
In the national classes, Jock Paget and Bing Bong lead the Thompson Electrical CNC*, on 22.3, but both Fiona Fraser (Xanthus III) and Amanda Illston (Brotherhood) are less than a single penalty behind him.
Juliet Woods leads the Bucas CNC105, on Waitangi Imak, on 28pen, with Vicky Browne-Cole second on Oranoa Foxy and Abigail Long third on Henton Audacious.