Less than one penalty point separates the top two combinations after the dressage phase of Australia’s Sydney CCI3*.
Olympic silver medallist Megan Jones leads the field after the dressage phase at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre and has a 0.6 penalty advantage over fellow Olympian Shane Rose.
Riding 13 year old gelding Flowervale Maserati, Jones finished the dressage phase on a score of 41, which gave her a marginal lead ahead over Rose with 41.60 with his grey gelding CP Qualified.
The team-mates from Beijing are joined in the top three by Western Australia’s Sonja Johnson who was also a member of Australia’s silver medal winning three day event team from 2008. Johnson and her thoroughbred Parkiarrup Illicit Liaison are sitting on a score of 45.
New Zealand’s Clarke Johnstone, who is celebrating his birthday today, is in a good position in fourth with Balmoral Sensation, on 46.40. Next in the rankings is Johnson’s second horse, Belfast Mojito with 46.6.
South Australian native Jones has been training hard for the event and wasn’t surprised by her score.
“We’ve been working really hard this year, travelling to lots of competitions, we’ve been doing this test over and over again, making sure to get the warm-up right, and we got it right to day which I’m really happy about.
“He was a good boy and it’s great to be on top after the first day,” Jones said.
With very little separating the top order Jones knows there’s no room for error but the 37-year-old is optimistic about retaining top position. “If I ride it right there’s no reason why we can’t be in this position on Sunday.
“It’s a very strong (cross country) course. I walk it and I really want to go out there and do it with him. I trust him a lot, we haven’t been competing that long together but I trust him.”
The Sydney CCI3* is an important event for Australian based event riders vying for a position on the Australian team that will compete at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France in August.
Competition continues today with the cross country and concludes on Sunday with the deciding show jumping phase.