Late September and early October 2009
New Zealand Season
Woodhill Sands 26th/27th September
First event of the New Zealand Spring Season!
Basically a good time, however, true to the sometimes fickle Auckland weather, the heavens certainly opened just in time for the Saturday morning dressage!
We had horses ranging from Clifton Pinot and Damascus in the Open Intermediate, to Clifton Signature in the Pre-Training, so quite a broad spectrum. Jock rode five and Summer Phillips two from Muriwai, then Donna rode Clifton Eagle and Maserati from Waerenga.
Everyone did pretty good dressage with Clifton Damascus and Pinot first and second after both this and the show jumping to finish the day. Clifton Signature's debut in a dressage arena was lovely to watch with him scoring all 8s and 7s except for an error of course given for missing a circle (which on the video he clearly performed, but it was raining so hard maybe the judge couldn't see!).
Summer on her own Clifton Grovachi and Donna on Clifton Eagle were our only two clear scores in show jumping, although Clifton Damascus single time fault really should count as clear. The holding ground was causing issues with the greener horses struggling in both the sand and grass arenas.
Sunday dawned lovely and sunny but the ground was soft so, with the steep hills involved, most sensibly went steady cross country. All ours jumped clear except Clifton Signature who was given a ‘20' for hesitating before going into the water.
We weren't expecting placings, but it turned out Clifton Pinot only missed winning his first Intermediate run by 0.2 penalties – coming second to a very experienced 4-star horse so no disgrace. Clifton Damascus also jumped clear but slower to finish 4th in the same class.
Te Rapa 3rd/4th October
The weather forecast was awful for the whole weekend, but turned out to be wrong for Saturday which was very welcome. However, it made up for it on Sunday with torrential rain to start the day and it only eased off right at the end.
Here, we again had largely good dressage performance to finish up in the top handful in most classes, the best being Clifton Pledge with 70% to sit just behind the leader on 71.8%.
Saturday's show jumping was mostly good with almost all Clifton horses clear. Sunday for the Pre-Novice in the rain and deep going proved a bit more eventful. Two of Jock's three jumped good clears, but Clifton Pledge, the greenest of them, found the deep going tough. He has so much scope his answer was to over jump and halfway round he put in an enormous jump and gave Jock little chance of staying on as he landed steeply into the mud. Luckily nothing but pride was hurt and they completed a nice round with just one rail in the holding ground.
Cross country proved rather boring despite the rain with all eight horses faultless. The only one asked to be quick was Clifton Housemaster who won the Pre-Novice. Rather to our surprise, Clifton Eagle also won, taking out the Novice class by a margin of over 25 marks, despite 14.4 time faults – excellent result for his second ever Novice.
Patrick Everingham, who has just joined the team after experience breaking horses and show jumping, completed his first Horse Trial with two double clears at Training Level – you can't ask for much more than that!
Clifton Lush took part in what turned out to be a ‘kiwi benefactor event' when five of the top six places were occupied by them at the top class, Open Intermediate, at the South of England Competition end-September. He just added 0.8 cross country time faults to his 70.5% dressage to finish 4th on 30.4 penalties.
Overall a good couple of weeks with the off-season work on the dressage showing good dividends.
The only low-light of note has been our decision to withdraw Clifton Promise from the 4-star Trans Tasman Squad to go to Adelaide in November. Unfortunately he suffered a foot abscess early September and it has taken longer than hoped to fix. He is now 100%, but missed too much crucial fitness work for us to take the risk. This is horses for you and we now hope to target Kentucky 4-star, the venue of WEG, in April 2010. This has lots of advantages, with cost as the big disadvantage – any suggestions to help with that would be gratefully received!