The New Zealand eventing season wraps up with the NRM National Three-day Event at the Fiber Fresh National Equestrian Centre, Aratiatia, Taupo, this weekend.
All six series that have been running throughout the competition year conclude there, with the elite level ESNZ Eventing Super League going down to the wire.
Thirteen of the country’s top horse and rider combinations will be vying for the sought-after national title in the NRM CCI3* class, as well as points in the Super League series. Ten points cover the top three placings in the series, and with double points earned at three-day events, the winner will pick up more than a hundred points, so there are sure to be changes.
Clarke Johnstone will be starting Balmoral Sensation, as they did not complete the Sydney CCI3* last month, having parted company at the water complex on the cross-country. He will be hoping to retain the lead he established after winning the CIC3* classes at the NRM Horse of the Year Show in Hastings and the BNZ Kihikihi Horse Trials.
Second placed Dannie Lodder is not running Petra Eatson’s Moochi in the top class as the horse has been below par this autumn, but third-placed Simon Gordon and Fletch.com, who won the Super League last year, will be giving it their all. Angela Lloyd and her mare Song, who won the National One-day title at McLeans Island, Christchurch, last month, are 12 points behind in fourth position.
Former Olympian Matthew Grayling has two rides, his Puhinui Three-day winner Henton Executive and NRM Lowenberg. They are ninth and seventh respectively, but only 50 points from the top of the table, and anything can happen in this sport, as we saw at Badminton last weekend.
Joseph Waldron can testify to that, after being the only rider to successfully tackle the direct route at the exit of the water complex at Kihikihi on Springvale All Black, producing the fastest cross-country round, only to be eliminated for going the wrong side of a flag at a compulsory passage. That cost him substantial Super League points, as a result of which he would need to win and the others at the top fail to finish, which of course is unlikely.
The dressage takes place on Friday, cross-country on Saturday, and Showjumping on Sunday following the all important veterinary inspection.