Bricks tumbled, but not records in the puissance competition at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium earlier tonight.
With $70,000 up for grabs if anyone could clear the 2.21m of the GJ Gardner Homes ‘Wall Challenge” at Ride The Rhythm, six combinations put their fears aside for the record attempt.
The target height was 8cm higher than the New Zealand record.
There were some brave efforts, but at the end of the day the honours went to Australian Billy Raymont on Stardom and Katie McVean on Dunstan Zehrenland both clearing 1.95m.
All six combinations made it through the first round, clearing the wall at 1.75m, much to the delight of the crowd. In the second round, the competition heated up with Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) on Schimmel Warrior, and Ross Smith (Burnham) on youngster Cesann stopping at the 1.80m wall, ending their chances.
McVean on both Dunstan Zehrenland and Dunstan Delilah, Raymont on Stardom, and fellow Australian Tyrone Latham on Rsb Swift all soared over.
When it came to the third round, the wall was set at 1.95m. McVean was first to go on Dunstan Zehrenland, who put in another gutsy effort to go clear. Latham was next, dropping the wall and his chances, followed by Raymont and Stardom, who blew the crowd away with another clear. McVean and Dunstan Delilah were last to go, with the youngster trying hard, but failing, taking just one block.
With just the two combinations left, the wall was raised once again to 2.05m, just 9cm short of the New Zealand record held by Allan Goodall and Scud. You could hear a pin drop as both McVean and Raymont gave it a shot, the crowd willing them over, but neither made it clearly, giving them equal honours at 1.95m.
“She was amazing. She is really brave and as honest as they come, but even I didn’t think she would jump that high. I have jumped a car before so I knew she would try,” McVean said of Dunstan Zehrenland.
Raymont was also stunned by Stardom’s performance. “He was super. I have never done one (a puissance) on him before, and even I haven’t jumped one for a long time. He’s always been pretty brave, but I came into that last fence questioning whether he would actually jump it. If he did stop it would have been his first one.”
Both praised the competition, one that’s hardly contested in this neck of the woods any more.
The competition continues with the second section of the $50,000 McMillan Equine Feeds Super Grand Prix, followed by The Hollies.
• Earlier in the day Christchurch rider Steffi Whittaker notched up her seventh Grand Prix win of the season in the $5000 Pony Grand Prix.
The win on Moonlight Glow was the biggest win of the 12-year-old’s career. The youngest rider in the 12-strong class, Whittaker, outdid her more experienced rivals, notching up her seventh individual Grand Prix win of the season.
Faults were aplenty, with just two combinations going through to the jump-off over Gerrit Beker’s challenging track.
Molly Buist-Brown (Christchurch) and the talented yet difficult Miss Mae West were first to go against the clock, setting the pace with a clear round in a smart time of 46.28.
Whittaker rose to the challenge, with Moonlight Glow stepping it up a notch in the jump-off to come home with seconds to spare taking the win. It capped off a big week for the 12-year-old who just started high school.
“It’s unbelievable. He was amazing. I knew I had a pretty good chance but I didn’t expect him to go well in the first round. It’s his first time indoors and he was a bit silly to begin with, but he jumped well in the jump-off,” Whittaker said.
North Islander Emily Fraser, of Takapau, didn’t go home empty-handed finishing third and fourth respectively on Tiger Tale LS and Tony The Pony on four faults, with Ashburton’s Emma Waite on Spring Brooke, fifth, and Kimberley Bird (Rakaia) on Brenwood Stevie James sixth.