Katie McVean and Dunstan Daffodil pulled off the double tonight (Friday), in winning the $50,000 Silver Fern Stakes at the 2012 New Zealand Horse of the Year Show in Hastings, but it wasn't enough to give New Zealand victory over the Aussies in the Trans Tasman Test.
Before a packed grandstand, McVean and Daffodil, who won the same class last year, rode a brilliant double clear to take the honours.
New Zealand went into the second test one up on the visitors after victory at Hawera earlier in the month, but this time a single time fault proved the difference at the end of the class.
Australia led New Zealand by just a point after the first round in the Trans Tasman Test, and it proved too big a chasm for the Kiwis to pull back, despite some great rounds from the team.
Kiwi chef d'equipe Richard Sunderland was “gutted”.
“I was very impressed with out team but gutted to lose by a point, especially after such a convincing win at Hawera,” he said.
Captain McVean was pleased with the efforts of her team – albeit disappointed.
“Daffodil was pretty fiery out there though,” said the 25-year-old from Mystery Creek who had saved her star horse for this class and Sunday's Olympic Cup.
Daffodil is a bit of a quirky mare who while adores showjumping, simply hates going for a ride, so McVean trots her beside a motorbike.
“She adores it! It keeps her happy and settles her down. So while she was a bit wild out there, that's usually when she jumps great.”
It was a tight tussle in the Ponies! Six Bar competition, with Georgie Urquhart and My Dreamworks winning the day after clearing 1.45m.
The country’s elite eventing combinations were challenged by the electric atmosphere in the premier dressage arena at the show as they did the dressage phase of the CIC3*. While the combinations rode their tests, thousands were entertained by the Equestrian Extravaganza in the adjacent arena. Special dispensation was made to allow the horses in the class to wear ear muffs, which is not normally permitted.
The last combination into the arena, Donna Smith (Te Kauwhata) on her third ride, Balmoral Sensation, took a clear lead on 46.9 penalties, despite the horse’s inexperience.
“He’s really amazing,” said Smith. “He loves the atmosphere. He’s a beautiful horse.”
They have had one previous advanced start, at Puhinui a fortnight ago, so Smith will nurse him around the cross country, but has a cushion of six points over the field.
Annabel Wigley (Amberley) is second on NRM Frog Rock on 53.3 penalties, with Smith third on Sarah Varley’s Just Chocolate on 53.9. The scores are close, with less than 20 penalties, the cost of a cross-country jumping error, covering the entire field of seventeen starters.
John Nicholson’s cross country track at the Hawke's Bay Equestrian Park on Saturday is sure to alter the scoreboard, with the national selectors watching this final selection trial before naming the New Zealand Trans Tasman team to compete against the Australians at Kihikihi at Easter weekend.
CRT Silver Fern Stakes: Katie McVean (Mystery Creek) Dunstan Daffodil 1, Brook Dobbin (Australia) Advisor 2, Evie Buller (Australia) Yalambi's Landor, Tim Clarke (Australia) Caltango, Maurice Beatson (Dannevirke) My Gollywog =3, Simon Wilson (Waipukurau) Swinger 6, Brett Warren (Australia) Cheezy Z 7.
Mitavite Trans Tasman Test: Australia (Brett Warren, Brook Dobbin, Evie Buller and Tim Clarke) 20 faults 1, New Zealand (Katie McVean, Simon Wilson, Lisa Coupe and Bernard Denton) 21 faults 2.
Ponies! Six Bar: Georgie Urquhart (Fairlie) My Dreamworks 1, Hannah Bodle (Morrinsville) Mister Brumby and Briar Burnett-Grant (Taupo) Kabo Silver =2, Anna Cooper (Kamo) Howzat Cracka Jack 4, Lucy McLean (Marton) Little MacIntosh and Caroline Kennedy (Cambridge) The Pony Express =5.
Eventing, Rush Munro CIC3*: Donna Smith (Te Kauwhata) Balmoral Sensation, 46.9, 1; Annabel Wigley (Amberley) NRM Frog Rock, 53.3, 2; Donna Smith (Te Kauwhata) Just Chocolate, 53.9, 3; Shelley Ross (Helensville) Alberta Tomba, 55.2, 4; Simon Gordon (Papakura) Fletch.com, 55.4, 5; Abby Lawrence (Te Puke) Pseudonym, 56, 6.
Show Circuit CIC2*: Samantha Felton (Hamilton) Ricker Ridge Pico Boo, 49.4, 1; Virginia Thompson (Auckland) Ashbury Pee Cee, 49.9, 2; Sophie Wilkinson (Helensville) Turbulence, 50.9, 3; Angela Lloyd (Papakura) Song, 53, 4; Jessica Woods (Ohaupo) Too Predictable, 53.8, 5; Nicole Lansdown (Dannevirke) Royalty, and Campbell Draper (Putaruru) Kahurangi Manu, 54.3, =6.
PGG Wrightson Novice: Sarah Dalziell (Masterton) Benrose Super Star, 29.8, 1; Natasha Edwards (Featherston) Runner Bean, 30.9, 2; Campbell Draper (Putaruru), Mr Mancini, 31.7, 3; Nick Brooks (Cambridge) Thriller II, 33.3, 4; Kate Wood (Whangarei) Drakkar, 333.9, 5; Chloe Davidson (Papakura) One Cool Dude, 36.5, 6.
Fiber Fresh Young Rider: Sarah Young (Tokoroa) Oakley Visions, 35, 1; Samantha Felton (Hamilton) Ricker Ridge Escada, 37, 2; Georgia Dufty (Rotorua) Charlton Tabloid, 37..2, 3; Jessica Woods (Ohaupo) Art Master, 39.6, 4; Tayla Mason (Waikanae) Just Joop, 39.8, 5; Stephanie Brasell (Auckland) Pokuru, 40, 6.