Australia leads Oceania Championship after cross country

        Sonja Johnson and Misty Isle Valentino on course at Taupo

 

Cross-country day at the Oceania Championships in Taupo, New Zealand saw a shake up in the standings for both Australian and New Zealand riders.

The cross-country course proved challenging as it undulated over 6,234m at the New Zealand National Equestrian Centre.

The Australian Gold Team (Shane Rose, Sonja Johnson and Emma Bishop) is leading the charge in the team competition on a score of 186.5 with all three nominated team members completing the course. The New Zealand Black team (Samantha Lissington, Madison Crowe and Amanda ‘Muzi’ Pottinger) are in second place on a total of 297.50

The Australian Green Team is currently on a score of 510.6 with a fabulous clear jumping round from Jade Findlay riding Oaks Cordelia who were the only team members to complete the course without issue.

 

      Jade Findlay and Oaks Cordelia

 

Unlucky rider falls for the overnight leader Amanda Ross and Emma Mason at the water complex saw the team slip down the leader board to fourth from their previous second place. However, under the new Olympic format in which the Championship is being run, these combinations are both still eligible continue the competition. The testing of the new Olympic format is the hot topic of conversation around the grounds and everyone is interested to see how the Oceania Teams’ Championship will pan out tomorrow when chefs declare their final starting lists for the showjumping.

Australian chef d’equipe Stuart Tinney said to have the opportunity to test the new format is huge.

“We’re all finding out lots of alternatives and things that can happen, so this has been a huge success in that aspect,” he said. The cross country had certainly been tough in places but he felt all his riders had stepped up and jumped well.

Australian Green Team reserve rider Madeline Wilson delivered an outstanding performance riding I'm Bruce and is currently the highest placed Australian rider sitting in third place with a score of 37.8 but it is New Zealand’s Maddy Crowe and Waitangi Pinterest who top the leader board on a score of 30 and Muzi Pottinger in second place riding Just Kidding on 32.8

Madison, who is the head girl at Olympian Clarke Johnstone’s stable, was over the moon to be leading the field after the cross country. “It was a really tough day,” she said. “I am just thrilled for her (Waitangi Pinterest). She is such a special little mare.”

Twenty-five-year-old Madison has had the 10-year-old for almost three years and says much of the credit for their efforts this season are down to Clarke. “Clarke is so involved. He believes in my vision and is a massive part of this. Our results this season speak for themselves.”

New Zealand chefs Penny Castle and Jock Paget were also very pleased with the efforts of their riders. “The cross country was a really good championship 4* track,” said Penny. “This is exactly what it should be like.”

Jock heaped praise on Madison and Amanda.

“Having lost our first rider for NZ Black, it was good for Maddy and Amanda to go out and both come home clear and inside time. They rode competitively and pulled it off. They were the only two (Oceania riders) who made the time and they did it under immense pressure. There will be massive learnings to come out of this around the new format.”

Seven CCI4*-L combinations parted company including overnight leader Amanda Ross aboard Dicavelli Diesel, but both horses and riders were all fine.

The Australian Young Rider Team has overtaken the Kiwis with all riders home safe after cross-country with a score of 233 after phase two.

“I’m very happy with the whole group today. They have gone out and done the best they can under new pressures. They have handled themselves with a maturity beyond their years and are already planning improvements for the future. Great job girls” praised Young Rider Team Chef d'Equipe Will Enzinger.

The defending NRM CCI3*-L champ Samantha Lissington and Ricker Ridge Sooty GNZ have retained their lead in the class and remain on their dressage score of 28.7. Sam was hugely disappointed to part company with Ricker Ridge Rui in the 4* but felt Sooty had “saved the day”. “Escada did a great job of getting me in the right place to go back out and jump a fantastic round on Sooty.”

Competition was delayed this morning as a pea soup fog enveloped the National Equestrian Centre, with the day eventually clearing with near perfect conditions.

The show jumping takes place tomorrow where the winner of the Oceania Championships will be decided.

Full results here