Aust in lead after dramatic Kihikihi cross-country

Australian team member Christine Bates riding Delago
Australian team member Christine Bates and Delago. © Frank O’Leary

Carnage was the order of the day on the cross-country at the Kihikihi International Horse Trials yesterday, with six dropping out and none clear and inside the time.

Australia consolidated its lead in the Trans Tasman Senior Competition, but not without some heart-stopping moments over a challenging John Nicholson-designed cross country.

Four went clear but had time faults, with overnight leader Shane Rose (Australia) and Taurus showing their class to take the lead with just 5.2 time penalties.

Both New Zealand and Australia had a team-member each eliminated – Christine Bates (Australia) headed to hospital with concussion after a fall early in the course from Delago, while Simon Gordon (Karaka) and Simply Mitch came unstuck at the second water combination. In all, four combinations were eliminated and two retired.

Joseph Waldron (NZ) and his black thoroughbred Springvale All Black rode an impressive clear to pick up just 8.4 time fault, while overnight leader Shane Rose (Aust) and Taurus were all class on their way to clear with 5.2 time penalties.

It may have been Rose’s third time on the course, but he says there’s no concession for familiarity.

“This is a course that is full on from the moment you leave that start box and it doesn’t let up! That second to last fence is as big a fence as you will find anywhere in the world.”

Rose feels the Nicholson-designed course continues to be “the most intense” he has ever ridden.

“Taurus has been working really hard and this was a good opportunity to test him before a (London Olympic) selection in three weeks. This is certainly the biggest one-day track in the world … and we’ll be back!”

Australian chef d’equipe Prue Barrett knew her team weren’t turning up for an easy time. “These guys are trying to go to London so they knew they weren’t here to jump a pre-novice track – they’ve delivered and so has John.”

She had plenty of praise for team-member Katja Weimann aboard BP Gallantry who went not long after seeing Bates’s fall.

“Katja produced a rock-solid performance after seeing Christine become a lawn dart.”

Weimann hit a jump very hard early in the course, and went on to pull off some magic going through the three skinny jumps at the second water combination.

Barrett said the course did not lend itself to anything but deadly accurate riding into every one of the 36 jumps.

She was rapt with Rose’s efforts.

“He’s pretty familiar with the track and has a lot of confidence in John’s courses – it’s starting to be a home event for him and as such gives him a real air of confidence.”

Kiwi chef d’equipe Jean Johnstone was proud of her team’s efforts.

“It was fantastic to see Joe (Waldron) on his first big outing for New Zealand having such a great round. It was a testing course as both teams discovered … but the competition isn’t over yet.”

Australian-based Waldron, whose two grandmothers and grandfather travelled from Otago to watch him compete, was ecstatic.

“That course was huge!”

He remembers watching Olympian Matthew Grayling win the Kihikihi event aboard Revo in 2004, never thinking for a moment he would be lining up in the same event eight years later.

Donna Smith and Henton Executive missed out on being named in the team, but showed her experience in steering her green horse into third spot with a great clear round.

Samantha Felton and Ricker Ridge Pico Boo continued their hot form of recent months, and lead the Bayleys CIC** over Virginia Thompson on Ashbury Pee Cee. Both are on New Zealand’s trans Tasman young rider squad.

The Kihikihi event culminates with the showjumping phase across all grades today.


Results –

Waipa Home of Champions CIC***, incorporating the Trans Tasman Senior Competition: Shane Rose (Aus) Taurus dressage 47.6, cross country 0, time 5.2, total 52.8, 1; Joseph Waldron (New Zealand) Sprinvale All Black 61.8, 0, 8.4, 70.2, 2; Donna Smith (Te Kauwhata) Henton Executive 66, 0, 22, 88, 3; Natalie Blundell (Aus) Algebra 54, 20, 14.8, 88.8, 4; Dannie Lodder (Auckland) Moochi 66.2, 0, 23.2, 89.4, 5; Annabel Wigley (New Zealand) NRM Enzo 63.4, 20, 13.2, 96.6, 6.

Trans Tasman Senior Teams Competition: Australia – Natalie Blundell, Algebra 88.8; Katja Weimann, BP Gallantry 98.2; Shane Rose, Taurus 52.8; Christine Bates, Delago eliminated; team total 239.8, 1.

New Zealand – Joseph Waldron, Springvale All Black 70.2; Annabel Wigley, NRM Enzo 96.9; Christen Hayde, Tandarra Sweet As 114.4; Simon Gordon, Simply Mitch eliminated; team total 281.2, 2.

Bayleys CIC**: Samantha Felton (Matangi) Ricker Ridge Pico Boo 53.6, 0, 0, 53.6, 1; Virginia Thompson (Henderson) Ashbury Pee Cee 54.7, 0, 1.2, 55.9, 2; Juliet Wood (Whangarei) Bold Trader 58.6, 0, 0, 58.6, 3; Angela Lloyd (Hunua) Song 57.2, 0, 2, 59.2, 4; Lauren Currie (Wellington) Wishful Thinking 60.6, 0, 0, 60.6, 5; Benjamin Bateman (Palmerston North) Fiber Fresh Facade 60.8, 0, 0, 60.8, 6.




This article has been written by a contributor to

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