Muzi (Amanda) Pottinger and Just Kidding can now add the Horse of the Year crown to their two National Three-day Championship titles, with a hard-fought win in the CCI4* at the Land Rover Horse of the Year Show today.
Having led the dressage, they’d dropped back to second place after taking a show jumping rail yesterday, but a superbly quick clear cross-country round with just two time faults propelled them back into the lead.
It wasn’t without controversy though, as they were initially awarded 15 penalties under the new ‘jumping outside the flag’ rule, though this was rescinded after the video footage was reviewed by the Ground Jury.
And this put a bit of a dampener on the victory for Muzi. “Obviously I’m over the moon, but it was spoiled a bit by having the 15 penalties put on, then taken off.
“But he was foot-perfect. I felt like I got into a good rhythm, and he was forward and honest and answered every question, which was great especially considering he’s only had a Novice run since Adelaide last November.”
The leader going into cross-country day, Madison Crowe and the beautiful 10-year-old warmblood Waitangi Pinterest, put in a poised performance, but 7.6 time faults saw them drop to second place, 1.7penalties behind Muzi and her 12-year-old thoroughbred. Maddy was still thrilled with her mare, especially as neither of them are experienced at this level.
Chris Ross’ track was considerably beefed up from previous years, with only six clear rounds among the 22 starters, and faults spread throughout.
The combination at fence three, a rolltop to a narrow corner, caught out none other than Jonelle Price and Ricker Ridge Divine Right. She had the mare packaged firmly and travelling well through the main arena, but unfortunately later retired when ‘Venus’ lost a shoe and felt slightly un-level as a result.
Tim Price had an easier time of it with Ricker Ridge Escada, but showed why taking on a catch ride at this level, even when you are one of the very best in the world, is a massive ask. They got all the way to the Leaf Pit combination at fence 18, and ran out at the C-element, but completed with 7.2 time plus 20 jumping penalties, and still finished seventh.
Just in front of them were the horse’s owner, Samantha Lissington, riding Ricker Ridge Rui, who was clear with 11.6 time faults.
The class got off to the worst of starts when the first rider out, Donna Edwards-Smith, had an awful fall at the first combination in the main arena, right in front of the grandstand, when DSE Mr Hokey Pokey was unable to get his front legs up in time over the last element, a narrow log.
The little palomino did his best to avoid falling on his rider, and was soon up on his feet, but Donna was not so fortunate, and it took some considerable time before she was able to be taken away in an ambulance. Happily, though badly bruised, she was found to have no serious injuries.
Blyth Tait had a great time riding Chloe Phillips-Harris’ long-striding Cor Jet, nailing the combinations and adding just 12.8 time penalties to finish in third place.
Blyth said he had an easy week with the horse. “I felt I was a bit of a passenger, really! We clicked very early on, and he’s a lovely, straight-forward horse who has been well produced by Chloe. He knew his job and I was thrilled with his performance.”
Nick Brooks and his wonderful For Fame, runners-up in this class a year ago, had arguably the round of the day, looking supremely confident. They were also one of the quickest, with just 5.2 time penalties, and zoomed all the way up from 16th to fourth as a result.
Bundy Philpott also had a super round on Tresca NZPH, clear with 14.4 time faults, to slot into fifth.
Samantha Lissington was well-rewarded for her generosity in lending horses for Jonelle, Tim and Jock to ride, winning the CCI3* today on her handsome Ricker Ridge Sooty GNZ.
The pair were second going into the cross-country, and were able to capitalise on Blyth Tait’s misfortune; the leading rider had a run-out with his mare Havanna at fence 4A; this turned out to be quite a bogey fence with six horses faulting there. It was a reasonably straight-forward corner combination, but came on a narrow piece of land running between one of the show jumping arenas and the covered yards and was therefore difficult for some of the horses to lock on to.
Sam and Sooty had no such difficulty though, and provided a terrific spectacle in their confident round, adding just 2.4 time faults to their dressage score.
Monica Oakley continued her fantastic season, second with Festival, fifth with Man of Honour and eighth on Artist.
Only Monica on Festival, and Sophie Wilkinson on Conway GNZ made the cross-country time; the latter climbing from 29th to 12th as a result.
Muzi Pottinger was third on The Comedian, a horse who has come up the grades rather rapidly with apparent ease, Louise Mulholland was fourth on her reliable Mr McTaggart, Samantha Mynott sixth on Ipso Facto, and Jock Paget seventh on Ricker Ridge Riley.