Clarke Johnstone heads to UK | An Eventful Life

Clarke Johnstone heads to UK

    Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation at Badminton 2016


It’s yet another Championship year, so it’s time for some team hopefuls from the Southern Hemisphere to get globe trotting

We recently spoke to Gemma Tinney about her plans for an overseas campaign in 2022 and now New Zealand’s Clarke Johnstone is also heading back to the UK

Clarke, currently ranked 42nd in the world and 10th in the South East Asia & Oceania eventing rankings, was one of the hot contenders for the New Zealand team at Tokyo 2020. However, after jumping a clear cross country round in the Olympic class at Sydney International 3 Day Event in May 2021, it turned out that Clarke’s wonderful horse Balmoral Sensation had picked up an injury.

This ruled them out of contention for selection for Tokyo 2020 and sadly resulted in the retirement of Balmoral Sensation who had been Clarke’s partner in producing some great performances around the world including sixth place at Rio 2016, winning the CCI5* at the Australian International, fifth at Badminton in 2016 and being part of the Kiwi gold winning team at Aachen 2018

The plans had been for Clarke to head off to the UK after Sydney 2021, along with Maddy Crowe who finally left later in the year; instead he returned to New Zealand and sat out the Olympic Games on the sidelines during yet another strange Covid year

But now it’s time to pack the bags, and the horses, and head back to the UK.

“We will be based at the fantastic Aston Farm in Gloucestershire” says Clarke on his social media as he looks for someone to fulfil the role of Head Groom head groom to join his team in England from February. That person will be looking after a small team of horses who are “aiming for some exciting events this season” (What a fabulous job! Check it out here and find out more about working for Clarke in our interview with his past Head Girl, Lydia Beales here)

Clarke is no stranger to living and competing in the UK, having lived there previously before deciding to base himself in New Zealand in the lead up to Rio. And now, with the 2022 Eventing World Championships at Pratoni Del Vivaro, Italy coming hot on the heels of the delayed Tokyo 2020, the man who was part of New Zealand’s bronze medal winning team at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky is heading north and aiming for Pratoni 2022