Australia’s Jamie Kermond and Colthaga won the $50,000 McMillan Equine Feeds Super Grand Prix at Ride The Rhythm indoors at Forsyth Barr Stadium last night.
Using ‘catch me if you can’ tactics, Colthaga was back to her brilliant best in the rich class, taking the honours with a beautiful double clear.
Split into two sections, there were just three clear rounds in the first section held before the GJ Gardner Homes ‘Wall Challenge’, which was won jointly by Katie McVean on Dunstan Zehrenland and Billy Raymont on Stardom clearing an impressive 1.95m wall.
At the finish of the second section, 14 combinations with 4 faults or less returned for the second round against the clock over a shortened track designed by international course designer Gerrit Beker.
With light failing, the pressure was on from the outset. Australian Alison Rowland on her nine-year-old mare Bickley Brook Bella set the early pace, posting the first clear round in 49.32. Having gone early on Dunstan Daffodil, after picking up one unlucky time fault in the first round, McVean was the first of the clear rounds to start with Dunstan Springfield, but the youngster couldn’t repeat his first round effort, finishing with 13 faults.
Rowland was next out on Bickley Brook Bianca but also collected faults. Next came Raymont on Stardom, who showed no ill-effects from the ‘Wall Challenge’, putting in another super effort to finish in a quick 48.53, but paid for it with four faults.
With some of the biggest names yet to come, young rider Logan Massie went into the lead with the first double clear in a time of 58.07 on Kiwi Ludo, but it was short-lived as next in the ring was Kermond and Colthaga, who jumped a super clear, slashing his time by more than 6 seconds. This laid down the challenge to McVean on Dunstan Kiwi Iron Mark, Maurice Beatson on My Gollywog, and Rory Hovell still yet to come. It was a risk, but one that paid off.
McVean fell just short, notching up 4 faults, while Beatson and Gollywog didn’t push the clock going clear in a slower time to secure second. Last to go, Hovell also incurred four faults.
“I knew I had to go clear, but with Maurice and Katie to come behind me I wanted to put the pressure on. There was room for them to catch me, but thankfully I came out on top,” Kermond said.
The win went some way to making up for Kermond’s last appearance in New Zealand where he lost the prestigious Olympic Cup at Horse of the Year in 2011 taking a rail at the very last fence to finish runner-up to McVean and Seremonie VDL.
It’s been a tough couple of years for the duo who headed to the US after HoY and struck all kinds of soundness issues. “It’s been a long road back. I wouldn’t have been disappointed if she hadn’t gone well. This is only her third show back but she had been working super at home in the past couple of weeks, so I came into this quietly confident,” Kermond said.
“We love coming over here. You don’t come here expecting to get your money back, but this is a great start.”
Kermond will start on Sunday in the $50,000 Forsyth Barr Horse Grand Prix out at the Taieri Agricultural Park as part of the Otago Show Jumping Championships before heading to Christchurch for the NZ National Show Jumping Championships and ultimately onto the Horse of the Year Show in March.
McMillan Equine Feeds Super Grand Prix – Jamie Kermond (Australia) Colthaga 1, Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) My Gollywog 2, Logan Massie (Dannevirke) Kiwi Ludo 3, Billy Raymont (Australia) Stardom 4, Alison Rowland (Australia) Bickley Brook Bella 5, Katie McVean (Mystery Creek) Dunstan Kiwi Iron Mark 6.