A mere 4.4 penalties separate the to six riders in the CCI3* after the dressage phase at New Zealand’s Puhinui International Three-Day-Event.
The field is led by local rider Angela Lloyd on Song, who has a narrow lead from fellow locals Dannie Lodder on Moochi and Simon Gordon on Fletch.com.
The ground conditions were testing after a deluge of rain in the past few days. The horses struggled with the soggy footing but at least the sun was out.
Lloyd said she wasn’t feeling any extra pressure by being in the lead going into the testing cross country phase on Saturday but was well aware of the closeness of the other competitors. “I’ll be going for time. I have been called a nana. The horse can go fast so I’ll be trying.”
Lodder had a busy day competing on four horses, and described her day as “starting badly but it did get better. In those conditions, you just have to go out and give it your all.”
Gordon, who juggles a full-time job as a financier with his sport, was about to go and walk the cross country course for the first time. He had to work on Thursday so Lodder presented his horse at the veterinary inspection on his behalf. The two are obviously good mates as well as fierce competitors.
In the Cato Packaging CCI2*, Donna Smith on Balmoral Sensation has a healthy lead over Virginia Thompson on Star Nouveau and South Islander Clarke Johnston on Leo Degas.
Smith was very enthusiastic about her performance and lead. “He gave me a beautiful ride, he travelled well above the mud and I couldn’t have asked for more. In the sport of three day eventing, any breathing space is good.”
Kate Wood from Northland has a 5.2 point lead in the Veterinary Associates CCI*, with Jessica Woods and Sophie Wilkinson second and third.
Wood described her horse Tobruk as being a “kind, generous and easy horse that doesn’t get wound up. Going early gave me a real advantage today.”
She was keen to get out onto the cross country. “Tich Massey has done a really good job. There is not one particular bogey fence, but lots of questions which is a sign of a good course designer.”
The cross country gets under way with the CCI1* starting at 9am, the CCI2* at 10:45 and the CCI3* at 12.45.