Elimination cuts Kiwi trans-Tasman team to three

November 13, 2009

from Stan Henderson in Adelaide

Kiwi eventer Heelan Tompkins was eliminated midway through her dressage test for the Trans-Tasman Challenge in Adelaide today after Sugoi showed obvious lameness.

Head of the ground jury Martin Plewa of Germany called a halt to the test.

My information was that Sugoi had irritated a splint earlier today and it was touch and go if he would start.

Overall it was a tough day at the office for the young New Zealanders at the Australian International 3 Day Event, as the home team stamped their authority on the dressage phase, holding the first 15 places in the four star competition going into tomorrow's cross country phase.

With three scores to count, the loss of Tompkins will increase the pressure on the remaining team members to complete the event.

Despite this setback there were some positives from today's dressage. Jenna Mahoney and Santos put in a polished performance and were the best of the Kiwi team, finishing in 17th place on 55.8 penalties, closely followed by Blair Richardson and Spend Up in 20th place on 57.5 penalties.

Clarke Johnston on his team ride Oakley Vision was first to go in today's program, avoiding the worst of the heat, which peaked at 40degC at 3pm. Clarke finished in 23rd place on 64 penalties. Later in the day Clarke rode his reserve mount Orient Express into 16th position, finishing on 55.7 penalties.

Undoubtedly the performance of the day came from South Australian Megan Jones on her Olympic mount Kirby Park Irish Jester. The combination showed that they are genuinely world class, posting a stunning score of 34.5 penalties. Second today was the crowd favourite Heath Ryan and Mystery Whisper. Last year the pair were eliminated at the same event when Whisper spooked and hopped out of the area during his test.

Today the crowd responded to Whisper's exuberant paces and Ryan's skill, applauding loudly at the completion of their test.

Ryan holds second place after dressage on 42. 8 penalties.

There will be no respite from the intense heat for tomorrow's cross- country. The 4-star competition begins at 11am (1.30pm NZT).

Olympic champion and Event Director Gillian Rolton said today's competition had been of an extremely high standard with Jones' score of 34 a record for this new 4-star Olympic test.

"There is plenty of shade in Rymill Park and under the trees, temperatures are quite comfortable. Spectators numbers today were strong, pre-ticket sales have been our best yet and we're expecting a lively crowd tomorrow cheering on their heroes," she said.

"Not only will spectators have the chance to see world-class riding tomorrow, but they can also enjoy a full program of fun events including the Grape and Gourmet Gallop featuring the best of South Australia's food and wine and an expanded Trade and Lifestyle Village."

Today, Rolton was awarded Administrator of the Year by Equestrian Australia and Clayton Fredricks was awarded Athlete of the Year and his horse, Ben Along Time, was named Horse of the Year. Jim Dunn also received an award in appreciation of his services to sporting events.