Grayling scoops NZ eventing’s top 3* prize

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Matthew Grayling and Henton Executive with the spoils from their Honda New Zealand CCI3* win at Puhuinui.
Matthew Grayling and Henton Executive with the spoils from their Honda New Zealand CCI3* win at Puhinui. © Jane Thompson

Matthew Grayling and Henton Executive have shown the young guns how it’s done with a decisive victory in the CCI3* at New Zealand’s Puhinui International Three-Day-Event.

The 50-year-old Taranaki dairy farmer prevailed in the Honda New Zealand CCI3* in difficult conditions, having to complete the final jumping phase in the heaviest of showers, but incurring only four faults for an unusual refusal.

Grayling, who has only been riding the horse since September this year, was delighted with the win, saying it was “difficult to get these wins and great to get this result.”

This is their first outing at the highest level of competition available in New Zealand.  “We have bonded a lot more in the last four weeks, he was standoffish with me at first. Now he is a pleasure to have around and now follows me around. I’ve even got the cows in on him a few times,” the 2004 Olympian said.

The “Grayling way” is to allow a horse to be a horse, and now Henton Executive, known at home as Eric, has become a horse that does everything, and thus fitting into the system the Grayling family use. One of the Grayling’s best known protégés is William Fox-Pitt’s 2012 Kentucky 3DE winner Parklane Hawk.

Aucklander Dannie Lodder riding her family’s favourite horse, Moochi, had regrets about her mistake on the cross-country which cost her the win.  “I made a big mistake yesterday.  Second is good, but first is a lot better.”    She still has big goals for Moochi.   “I’d love to do a four star.  If I could do Badminton, I’d die happy.”

Kelsey Rothery from Cambridge with her horse The Felon finished in third place.   The young rider was delighted with her achievement at her first attempt at a competition at this level.   She will now aim the horse at Kihikihi and then Taupo but first she’s going to take her horse on beach holiday to her home town of Kawhia.

Rothery, like so many riders, was full of praise for the course, built by Tich Massey.  “The cross country rode well, Tich build a great course.”

Matthew Grayling and Henton Executive on their victory lap.
Matthew Grayling and Henton Executive on their victory lap. © Jane Thompson

Nadine Bell, the Marketing Manager from Honda NZ who sponsored the CCI3*, was full of praise for the event.  “We are very proud to be involved.  It’s a fantastic event and eventing is a great sport, we think this is a great way of giving back to New Zealand, as horses are a big part of the New Zealand culture.

The Cato Packaging CCI2* was lead from start to finish by Donna Smith on Balmoral Sensation.  Did this create any extra pressure?   “I strive on pressure, I need it or else I’d be yawning and sleeping in the truck park,” Smith said.

Samantha Felton moved from 5th to 4th to 2nd on Ricker Ridge Pico Bo. It was a big weekend for Felton, who had three horses in the class.  “I always knew this was going to be a big weekend, I’ve never done it before.  I’ve had this horse since he was three so I know all the tricks he has,”  she said.

Clarke Johnstone was third in the event on Sam Taylor’s Leo Degas.  The horse will now go back to Taylor who will compete on him in the autumn.  Johnstone has spent the last three weeks getting to know him and while he said he made a few mistakes in the dressage, he was very pleased with him. Johnstone now heads to an exhibition eventing competition in Perth, Australia.

In the Veterinary Associates CCI* Simone Kann took the win on her chestnut mare Balmoral Oakey. She praised her partner, Donna Smith, for giving her sound advice on where to ride the showjumping jumps, with the going being a little difficult. Her biggest challenge now, she thinks, is keeping Donna from “stealing her ride.”

Jessica Woods on LV Award was second and well pleased with her horse, one with potential for the future. “He’s a keeper,” she said. Sarah Young was the big mover in the class, moving from 15th after the dressage to 9th after the cross country to finish third overall.

She said she was “quite shocked.”  “I love this little horse and I have trained him all myself.  I just had to keep cool and let him do his job.”  Both Woods and Young are aiming at the Trans Tasman young rider team in Australia next year.

This was the last competition on the New Zealand eventing calendar for 2013 and has been a fabulous event with some very popular and well deserved wins.

Celebrations at the prizegiving for the CCI3* at Puhinui: Back row: Henton Executive's breeders and part-owners Bridget Sutton and Dave Sutton, and Honda NZ's Nadine Bell. In the front row, from left, is Dannie Lodder, Matthew Grayling and Kelsey Rothery.
Celebrations at the prizegiving for the CCI3* at Puhinui: In the back row is Henton Executive’s breeders and part-owners Bridget Sutton and Dave Sutton, and Honda NZ’s Nadine Bell. In the front row, from left, is Dannie Lodder, Matthew Grayling and Kelsey Rothery. © Jane Thompson

Final Results

Honda New Zealand CCI***
Matthew Grayling, Henton Executive, 61.6
Dannie Lodder, Moochi, 79.2
Kelsey Rothery, The Felon, 82.6
Brent Jury, SE Big, 87.4

Cato Packaging CCI**
Donna Smith, Balmoral Sensation, 42.1
Samantha Felton, Ricker Ridge Pico Boo, 48.9
Clarke Johnstone, Leo Degas, 51.4

Veterinary Associates CCI*
Simone Kann, Balmoral Oakley, 45.6
Jessica Woods, LV Award, 49.4
Sarah Young, SS Galaxy, 53.1

Jane Thompson

Jane has always had a keen interest in horses, and was an active competitor in equestrian events from her early days until the late 1980s. » Read Jane's profile

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