Personal best scores were the order of the day at the Puhinui International Horse Trials with Amanda “Muzi” Pottinger producing a stunning test from her top horse, Just Kidding to take the lead from Olympian Clarke Johnstone with Aces High. Their score of 21.2 penalties was the best for Just Kidding and for Muzi on any horse, “Even right through the grades he’s had some pretty good marks but that was definitely a personal best and a lot of the credit I have to give to the coaches that I’ve worked with over the last five years – Penny Castle and Jock Paget. They’ve been pushing us for those marks, and pushing us and I was stoked today that (a) they gave us those marks and it went well. I felt it was the best test he’s done and I was stoked that the marks reflected that. I could not fault him today” she said, giving full credit to her horse, “ there was just one tiny little thing that I did a bit late but it was me, not him.” And carrots, “6 kgs of them we brought to the event so he got lots of carrots” were the reward for Muzi’s star performer.
But breathing down Muzi’s neck is Olympian Clarke Johnstone and Aces High on 23.2 penalties, closely followed by Monica Oakley (Artist) and Madison Crowe (Waitangi Pinterest) on 25.5. The riders share the view that this competition will not be decided on the dressage with a tough cross country course tomorrow (Saturday). Muzi said “I don’t know if it’s because we haven’t done a three day for a while it’s a long way around and its more challenging than I expected probably, I’m going phew, there’s a lot of work to do. There is so much out there………there’s definitely no let up. There’s a few places you could definitely have problems.
Monica Oakley, sitting in third equal echoed Muzi’s comments; “There’s enough to do out there, its tougher than last year. My horse Artist is doing his first 4* long format but he’s done enough 3* to know what his job is. He’s ready for this challenge – I hope I’m ready for it! The riders agreed that the water obstacle needed accuracy and that the stumps needed to be thought out. There is also a question at the second last fence which means that they cannot take their foot of the pedal right until the end.
Cross country starts at 8.30am with the 2* class, followed at 10.15am by the 3* and the top level competitors set out at 12.15pm for their 40 jumping effort 10 minute challenge.
Photos: Jane Thompson