Clarke Johnstone and the gorgeous Balmoral Sensation cruised to their third Eventer of the Year crown with a faultless showjumping round.
New Zealand’s best-performed eventer at the Rio Olympic Games finished 8.4 penalty points ahead of the second-placed Nick Brooks on For Fame.
“He does enjoy it and finds it easy,” he said of Balmoral Sensation. “It is a pleasure to ride him and I am very pleased to have won.”
Johnstone admitted he does feel some pressure from Sensation’s many fans.
“Everyone loves him because he is white and cute, and he has such an incredible record . . . it would be a shame to ruin it.”
He feels they are well on track for selection for the 2018 World Equestrian Games but he will be making sure not to over run the horse.
“It’s a big year ahead with a lot of travel.”
Balmoral Sensation’s breeder David Goodin was on hand to see the win.
“I used to say to my wife when I was training him that he was a star in the making,” he said.
Goodin competed the horse to 1.2m in showjumping.
“I certainly get a lot of pleasure seeing him go so well.”
It was an expensive showjumping rail for Amanda Pottinger and Just Kidding who dropped to fourth place overall, while Brooks and Ashleigh McKinstry on Pioneer Brass Monkey popped up from fifth and sixth respectively to take second and third. Pottinger and Just Kidding did however collect the award for the best presented horse in the class.
Just 17 of the original 23 starters completed the CIC3*.
In the CIC2*Abby Lawrence and Anonymous held on to take the crown despite a rail in the showjumping.
“It is a very special win,” she said. “It is totally unexpected. This is just his fourth 2* start and he has never been in any sort of atmosphere remotely like this before. He has far exceeded all expectation but in saying that we always knew he was capable of producing that result.”
She has had the ride aboard the 10-year-old for about a year.
“I do love him. His old owner was unable to ride him for a little while so I was riding him for her but just fell in love and bought him.”
Sarah Young and Equador MW won the best presented prize in the CIC2*.
CIC3* Eventer of the Year: Clarke Johnstone (Matangi) Balmoral Sensation 40.5 penalty points 1, Nick Brooks (Cambridge) For Fame 48.9 2, Ashleigh McKinstry (Owhango) Pioneer Brass Monkey 49.1 3, Amanda Pottinger (Havelock North) Just Kidding 51.2 4, Donna Edwards-Smith (Te Kauwhata) DSE Cluny 51.9 5, Abby Lawrence (Te Puke) Charlton Yamani 52.8 6.