Amanda Pottinger ticked off a run of boxes today, going clear in the cross country in very challenging conditions in the NRM CCI3* Open National Championship class in Taupo.
She and her former racehorse Just Kidding led coming into the day but persistent rain saw eliminations and retirements in the star class of the NRM National Three Day Championships.
Pottinger (Havelock North) and Just Kidding added just 3.2 time penalties to their dressage score to finish the day on 32.4, with Nick Brooks (Cambridge) and For Fame in second on 37.9, Jessica Woods (Ohaupo) aboard Just de Manzana third on 49.8 and Bundy Philpott (Cambridge) aboard Tresca NZPH fourth on 54.3.
Pottinger, who won the CCI3* crown in 2016, had much riding on their efforts today.
“The cross country today was definitely the toughest and most technical I have ever ridden and I said to myself that if we can get around this then we are ready for (the CCI4*) in Adelaide,” said the 26-year-old. “This is a major milestone for us. We ticked off three big things – we came into the water extremely confidently; we jumped around all the difficult combinations – and it was relentless with very tough questions to the end; and for the first time ever we were on our minute markers.”
Pottinger credited Olympian Jock Paget for the improvement.
“He has been instrumental in this,” she said.
She likened Just Kidding to a pony.
“He has no gallop so we have to make up time using our corners better, shaving lines and jumping out of a gallop. I don’t make up time when others do in the big open gallops.”
The horse had pulled up well after the cross country today, however, Pottinger is all too aware of how important tomorrow’s showjumping will be.
Last year, she was leading coming into the final test but a run of rails saw her slip to third.
“I have a rail in hand (tomorrow), which is handy. I am expecting Nick (Brooks) to jump well as he is a very good showjumper. But I am happy whatever the outcome – as long as I ride well and Ferg (Just Kidding) jumps well.”
Pottinger had plenty of family in Taupo to watch her ride today, including her 93-year-old grandmother Tiny White, who is a former patron of the Equestrian Sports New Zealand.
As well as celebrating her success, they all had a good laugh at her expense.
“After we had come through the finish flags I went to undo his girth as we were trotting along but I couldn’t secure the buckle and the whole saddle slid sideways dropping me on the ground. I was still on cloud nine, so saw the funny side.”
Defending 2017 champion Emily Cammock (Canterbury) and Shaw Lee withdrew before today’s cross country, with one other combination eliminated and four retiring on course.
Samantha Felton’s dogged determination has paid dividends. The Matangi rider leads both the Bates CCI2* and Fiber Fresh CCI1* championship classes.
She and Ricker Ridge Sooty GNZ took the lead in the 2* after going clear and inside time in the cross country and sit on 28.1 penalty points, with Angela Lloyd (Hunua) and Lyrical in second on 30.2, Bryce Newman (Bulls) and Bates Game Keeper in third on 32.7 and Lucy Turner (Christchurch) aboard Carbon in fourth on 34.8.
Felton (Matangi) has had the seven-year-old for two years and she was rapt with his efforts today.
“He is still relatively green at 2* level and I was not sure how we would go – he started jumping everything massive but then really settled in super,” said Felton. “That is the longest course he has ever done and in very trying conditions. It was a good challenge and a fair test for us all I think.”
The horse is generally solid in the showjumping but Felton knew there was still a course to be jumped.
Overnight leader Donna Edwards-Smith had a fall from Astek Guardsman, eliminating her from the field. Sixteen combinations completed the course, with one retiring and four others eliminated.
The cross country proved hugely influential in the 1* championship with Felton’s clean and clear efforts aboard Ricker Ridge Riley earning her pole position heading into tomorrow’s showjumping.
Overnight leader Dannie Lodder (Papakura) and Lexington picked up 20 faults for a run-out at the water slipping them out of contention.
The top six after the cross country all remain on their dressage scores with not even a rail between then all, with Felton on 30 penalty points, Christen Lane Pukekohe) and Henton Armada in second on 31.5, Courtney Davis (Waipara) and Dunrobin Gancanagh in third on 32 and Samantha Mynott (Hamilton) aboard CHS Ripleys Dream in fourth on 32.8.
Felton (Matangi) got Riley as a foal and brought him carefully through the grades.
“He has been a bit ahead of himself. He got good quite quickly so we slowed him down a bit.”
The horse has had four starts this season, winning two of those including the CIC1* at Puhinui. This was his first three-day start.
“It was really slippery from the get go out there today, and particularly under the trees.”
Six-year-old Ricker Ridge Riley is a warmblood thoroughbred cross who is by Donnerubin, and was bred by John Twomey.
Eight of the 43 combinations to complete the cross country picked up jump faults, with 18 adding time penalties.
Angela Lloyd is on track to add to her trophy cabinet after maintaining her lead in the Wairakei Resort CCN105 Championship at the NRM3DE.
She and her homebred horse Raucous, who won the national one day CNC105 title at Kihikihi recently, were clear and inside time over the cross country to remain on their dressage score of 26.9 penalty points. Right behind them is Kirsty Guilfoyle (Papakura) aboard Ash Haven Diva on 29.2, Lizzie Green (Cambridge) on Comanche II is in third on 30.2 and Bryar Kirkeby (Taupo) sits in fourth place on HNS Chrialka Gienah with 30.8.
Lloyd felt the cross country had ridden well in today’s conditions.
“It was rather unpleasant out there,” she said. “He is a little green so I am pleased with his efforts.”
She wasn’t surprised with his opening day dressage score. Lloyd competes in pure dressage aboard his father Ruanuku R, but Raucous also has strong jumping bloodlines.
The warmblood thoroughbred cross is over 17hh and still growing.
“I think he could do anything. He started eventing late because he was still growing – he’s just a lot of horse.”
It’s very tight on the leaderboard, with less than a single showjumping rail between the top four.
Jessica Woods (Ohaupo) and LV Encostalot are still in the front in the Taupo Veterinary Centre CCN105 Open with Megan Finlayson (Kerikeri) aboard Greensleeves at the front of the AMS Saddlery CCI1* Open.
For full results, head to www.equestrianentries.co.nz .