Aust Olympian claims top NZ horse trials event

April 12, 2009

Australian rider Megan Jones has claimed New Zealand eventing's largest ever prize with her all-the-way win in the HSBC FEI World Cup qualifier in Kihikihi.

A jubilant Megan Jones after her Kihikihi victory.


A clean jumping round guaranteed the win for Jones and Kirby Park Irish Jester. © Timeless Images Photography

Jones and her homebred mount Kirby Park Irish Jester dominated the event from the start to bag $23,500 - the winner's share of the $70,000 prize pool.

It is the second big prize offered up by the Kiwis to make its way across the Tasman in recent weeks, after Peter McMahon and KS Genoa claimed showjumping's Olympic Cup at the Horse of the Year show last month, winning $150,000 in the process.

Jones and Kirby Park Irish Jester, who finished fourth at the Olympic Games in Hong Kong last year, completed the Kihikihi competition on their dressage score of 38.1 penalties, a comfortable 10 penalties ahead of last year's winner, Heelan Tompkins and Sugoi. This combination secured second prize after also completing the show-jumping clear to finish on 48.1 penalties.

Despite dropping a rail, Matthew Grayling and NRM Parklane Hawk held on to their 3rd place with 54.2 penalties, with Jonathon Paget and Clifton Promise in fourth place with 61.4 penalties. The 2007 winner of the event, Clarke Johnstone and Oakley Vision, finished fifth on 64.2.

The other Australian rider in the field, Shane Rose, had some bad luck on the cross-country, when All Luck failed to sight the second element of the influential line down to the second water complex and incurred 20 penalties. But he wasted little time, only accruing 2.8 time penalties on his Australian Thoroughbred, the fastest horse across country in Hong Kong last year and third at Burghley in 2006. Rose also had a run-out on his other ride Santos but, remarkably, still finished within the time.

Gordon, who won the event in 2005 and 2006 with Matthew Grayling, placed 10th with Alice Montgomery, on 86 penalties.

Jones now becomes the initial leader of the 2009 World Cup Eventing rankings with 71 points, and has every chance of increasing her lead with another good performance when the series moves to her home country, in Sydney on May 2-3.

The event was marred by the death of a horse, Double Chocolate, following her elimination late in the cross-country.