Hawke's Bay's Monica Oakley and Fontain were rewarded for making the long trip to Auckland with their first win at Advanced level in the top class at the Puhinui Horse Trials on Sunday, moving into fourth position in the Bell Tea Super League in the process.
The Waipukurau combination were second after Saturday's dressage and showjumping, producing one of only four clear showjumping rounds in the 13-strong class. However the overnight leader Donna Smith of Te Kauwhata withdrew Just Chocolate to save him for the Horse of the Year Eventing, secure in the knowledge that they could not be overtaken in the Bell Tea standings.
There were four other withdrawals due to the hard ground, but Oakley said, "I didn't come all this way to withdraw."
Her thoroughbred gelding is light on his feet, so she said, "I let him roll on, and he showed no sign of jarring. I thought if I just canter round I won't get in the groove. It was huge, with no let up."
Hunua rider Angela Lloyd was second on Song, with Natalie Page, all the way from Levin, third on Jack O'Malley. All those who went across country completed with clear rounds, but time penalties were the order of the day, as no-one wanted to risk jarring up at the start of the autumn season.
The next event for these elite competitors is the short format CIC3 class at the Horse of the Year Show in Hastings on March 15 and 16 where extra points will be earned in the Bell Tea series, as FEI (international) rules will be used.
Standings after seven events in the Bell Tea Eventing Super League: Donna Smith, Te Kauwhata, Just Chocolate, 179 pts; Ashleigh McKinstry, Taumarunui, Pioneer Makokomiko, 159 pts; Simon Gordon, Auckland, Fletch.com, 119.5 pts; Monica Oakley, Waipukurau, Fontain, 84 pts; Bryce Newman, Bulls, Bates Trademark, 62.5 pts; Shelley Ross, Helensville, Alberta Tomba, 58.5 pts.