Mike Etherington-Smith’s cross-country course proved to be a real challenge on Saturday, with 19 of the 26 starters completing, 11 of them clear, but only one inside the time on the undulating terrain.
Each team had three riders jump clear, but the Australians further extended their lead with fewer time penalties in total, but had the worry of their fourth rider being eliminated for a fall, meaning the remaining three riders had to finish to stay in contention.
While the showjumping also proved to be a challenge, with only four clear rounds in all – one from each team – it did not change the order at all. The Australian team members finished first, second, and fourth, while the New Zealanders were fifth, seventh, eighth, and 16th.
Stuart Tinney was an all-the-way winner on Pluto Mio, adding 0.4 of a time penalty on cross country and having one showjumping rail down. Craig Barrett was second on Sandhills Brillaire, the only combination inside the cross-country time, and also one showjumping rail down.
Natalie Blundell and Algebra had 7.2 cross-country time penalties but showjumped clear.to finish fourth. Shane Rose on Virgil finished on the same score as Craig Barrett after a clear showjumping round, but Craig’s fault-free cross-country score gave him the edge.
Joe Waldron was the best performed Kiwi, improving from having the discard score after the dressage to be the leading New Zealander after the cross-country, with just 1.6 time penalties on Springvale All Black, the third fastest round of the day. They had one rail down in the showjumping.
Simon Gordon and Fletch.com improved from 18th after the dressage to be seventh after the cross-country, having had 8 time penalties, and their three showjumping rails did not alter that. Bryce Newman and Bates Trademark had 24 cross-country time penalties, improving from 12th to eighth, and showjumped clear, but it did not alter the placing.
Donna Smith and Just Chocolate had a nightmare cross-country round, with two jumping errors and 54.4 time penalties, plus two rails down in the showjumping, to finish with the discard score.
Riding as individuals, Smith on Balmoral Tangolooma and Dannie Lodder on Moochi each had 20 jumping penalties on the cross-country, and Moochi was not presented at the trot-up on Sunday morning. Tangolooma was one of the four to showjump clear, to finish ninth.
So the Aussies retained the Trans-Tasman Trophy they won at Kihikihi last year, and the Kiwis will try to win it back in two years’ time on home soil.
Stuart Tinney, Pluto Mio (AUS), 50.4, 1; Craig Barrett, Sandhills Brillaire, 53.8, 2; Shane Rose, Virgil, 53.8, 3; Natalie Blundell, Algebra, 54.9, 4; Joe Waldron, Springvale All Black (NZL), 66.8, 5; Jessica Manson, Legal Star, 76.6, 6; Simon Gordon, Fletch.com (NZL), 79.6, 7; Bryce Newman, Bates Trademark (NZL), 81.3, 8; Donna Smith, Balmoral Tangolooma, 87.8, 9; Smith, Just Chocolate, 153.9, 16.
Trans-Tasman team result:
Australia, 159.1 penalties, 1; New Zealand, 227.7 penalties, 2.