Teams consist of four riders, with the top three scores counting towards the team total.
Australia’s total is 143.5 penalties to New Zealand’s 168.4 penalties. But the cross-country could change all that, as the cost of a jumping error is 20 penalties, and time penalties will play a part as well. Cross-country is traditionally New Zealand’s forte, but Australia has a strong hand with three experienced riders topping the scoreboard.
Olympian Stuart Tinney is the overnight leader on Pluto Mio with 46 penalties, followed by Natalie Blundell on Algebra with 47.7 penalties, and Craig Barrett on Sandhills Brillaire with 49.8 penalties. Their fourth team member, Emma Scott on Mustang, lies ninth with 55.4 penalties.
For New Zealand, Donna Smith is sixth on Just Chocolate with 51.5 penalties, Bryce Newman is 12th on Bates Trademark with 57.3 penalties, and Simon Gordon on Fletch.com is 18th equal with 59.6 penalties. Joe Waldron holds 20th spot on Springvale All Black with 61.2 penalties.
Riding as individuals, team reserves Smith on Balmoral Tangolooma pulled out a stunner for fifth place with 51 penalties, and Dannie Lodder on Moochi is also delighted with her test for 10th place on 55.8 penalties. Shane Rose, well known to New Zealanders after competing at Kihikihi on a number of occasions, is third equal on Virgil also with 49.8 penalties.
Mike Etherington-Smith’s cross-country course is sure to change the order on Saturday.