Monica Oakley and her 11-year-old thoroughbred Fontain lead the field after the opening day dressage at the Kihikihi International Horse Trial.
The 25-year-old rode a lovely test to score 66.15% from the trio of international judges, giving her a slender three penalty point lead over nearest rival Donna Smith and Balmoral Tangolooma. Oakley is also sitting in fourth position in the CIC* aboard Saltador.
Both women are chasing spots in the New Zealand team for the Trans Tasman clash in Sydney later this month.
Oakley’s Fontain was completely overwhelmed in the big atmosphere of Hastings at HOY last month, but showed no signs of that today.
Fontain has also come back from a major injury just over a year ago when he jumped out of his paddock and de-gloved his entire back leg.
It’s almost a blanket cover over the 11-strong three star field, with the top seven all under 60 penalty points as they head into the John Nicholson-designed cross country course on Saturday.
A single stop in the cross country will add 20 penalty points to scores.
It was a near perfect start to three big days of competition at the Kihikihi Domain, with more than 300 combinations from all over the country keen to take the honours at one of the nation’s favourite events.
Most of the adulation is thanks to the innovative and challenging cross country course, by the internally-recognised Nicholson – brother of the world number one ranked eventer, Andrew Nicholson.
The New Zealand team for the trans-Tasman is expected to be announced after the event.
CIC*** (after the dressage): Monica Oakley (Waipukurau) Fontain 66.15%, 50.8 penalty points 1; Donna Smith (Te Kauwhata) Balmoral Tangolooma (owned by Sim Kann, Gaye McClunie and Graham Smith) 64.1%, 53.8 2; Campbell Draper (Putaruru) Kahurangi Manu 63.85% 54 2 3; Dannie Lodder (Papakura) Moochi 63.46%, 54.8 4; Donna Smith (Te Kauwhata) Britannica MVNZ (owned by Caroline Jolley and Wendy Keddell) 61.41%, 57.9 5; Simon Gordon (Karaka) Fletch.com 60.64%, 59 6; Ashleigh McKinstry (Owhango) Pioneer Makokomiko 60.51%, 59.2 7; Sarah Broughton (Ohaupo) Rockhill Rocket and Christen Hayde (Pukekohe)Tandarra Sweet As 58.85%, 61.7 =8.
CIC**: Georgia Dufty (Rotorua) Charlton Tabloid 67.59%, 48.6 1; Angela Lloyd (Papakura) 66.38%, 50.4 2; Bundy Philpott (Cambridge) Romeo NZPH 65.86% 51.2 3; Charlotte Grayling (Taranaki) NRM Ru Star 64.83%, 52.8 4.
CIC* A: Cherie Jacques (Otorohanga) Tobinator 68.26%, 47.6 1; Jessica Woods (Ohaupo) LV Award 66.74%, 49.9 2; Megan Finlayson (Kerikeri) Greensleeves 66.09%, 50.9 3; Monica Oakely (Waipukurau) Saltador 65.65%, 51.5 4.
CIC* B: Helen Bruce (Palmerston North) Toblerone NZPH 69.13%, 46.3 1; Kate Wood (Whangarei) Tobruk68.04%, 47.9 2; Amanda Pottinger (Masterton) Just Kidding 66.74%, 49.9 3; Andy Daines (Te Kauwhata) Henton Executive 65%, 52.5 4.