New Zealand’s Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation are heading up the leaderboard at the conclusion of Mitsubishi Motors Australian International 3DE dressage. Their score of 45.9 was good enough to top the 20 horse field.
It was a wet and windy day in the parklands of Adelaide, and Balmoral Sensation had a nearly 24-hour journey from New Zealand, but the pair made the best of it.
“He is an amazing horse and I am very lucky to be riding him,” Clarke says. “He had a slight issue earlier on, but we worked through this and, overall, I thought the test went very well.”
Clarke and the 13-year-old NZ Warmblood gelding owned by the Johnstone family have a well-established partnership; Balmoral Sensation was his 2016 Rio Olympic mount, where they finished 6th. They finished 3rd at their first four-star together, the 2015 Australian 3DE, and 6th at their most recent outing at the level at Badminton last year.
“Taking everything into consideration, I am very happy to be in the lead at this early stage,” Clark says. “He is a great jumper, with a lovely temperament and I am looking forward to what we can both produce over the next two days.”
Of the event itself, Clarke noted that it is the only 4* in the Southern Hemisphere and an important event for 2018 World Equestrian Games selection. “The location of the event is unlike any other in the world and its proximity to the city makes it extremely unique. With a great crowd, I would go so far as saying this is my favorite event in the world.”
In second we’re looking at Australia’s Sonja Johnson with Parkiarrup Illicit Liason (49.5), with another Aussie Megan Jones and Kirby Park Impress (49.6) rounding out the top three.
Check out this Cross Country App preview of the CCI4* course with audio from Mike Etherington Smith and Sam Griffiths. A special thanks to assistant course designer Sylvia Williams-Roberts for the course recording.
Australian International 4* Dressage Top 10: