Aucklander Simon Gordon and Fletch.com, the only combination to showjump clear and inside the time, improving from ninth place after the dressage at the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds on Friday to hold third place overnight, had the biggest win of their career, taking the Bell Tea CIC3* Eventing title at the Horse of the Year Show.
John Nicholson's crosscountry course at the Hawkes Bay Equestrian Park provided high drama on Saturday, with plenty of thrills and a few spills.
Gordon produced one of eleven clear crosscountry rounds with 4.8 time penalties to complete on 61.1 penalties.
Overnight leaders, Donna Smith, Te Kauwhata, and Balmoral Sensation, pulled up between the third and fourth fence as the horse was not listening to the rider, and he will be ridden in a different bit in future. Second-placed Emily Cammock, Christchurch, withdrew before the crosscountry as Dambala was returning after injury and she was worried the hard ground, although it had been watered and aerated, could cause a recurrence of the problem.
Young rider Ashleigh McKinstry, Taumarunui, was second on Pioneer Makokomiko with 7.2 time penalties for a final score of 71 penalties, ahead of Bryce Newman, Bulls, on Bates Trademark who incurred 11.2 time penalties to finish on 77.4.
Donna Smith had some consolation with her younger horse Balmoral Tangolooma, taking fourth place having added 10 time penalties for a final score of 81.7. The results will have the selectors scratching their heads as they seek to name the transtasman team to go to the Sydney CCI3* Three-day Event, 26-28 April.
Twelve of the eighteen starters completed, with two riders eliminated after falling at the second to last fence.
Another withdrawal before the cross-country was Waipukurau rider Monica Oakley, who had a disastrous showjumping round, her horse Fontain being badly affected by the atmospheric arena.
McKinstry's second place has elevated her to the top of the Bell Tea Super League, which means she now leads both the Massey University Young Rider Series, where she cannot be beaten, as well as the elite series, both of which culminate at the NRM Three-day Event at Taupo in May.
She is a member of the transtasman squad, and hoping for selection as she has ridden in the NZ Young Rider team which has beaten Australia on several occasions. Gordon is also a former transtasman representative at both Young and Senior rider level, and is in the frame for selection.