Equestrian: NZ rider collects US Triple Crown

New Zealand rider Guy Thomas created history yesterday as the first rider to win all three grand prix on one horse to take the Triple Crown of showjumping in northern California.

It is the first time in the five years the Triple Crown has been running that one rider has won all three grand prix legs.

Riding Peterbilt, Thomas headed home a 25-strong field with fellow Kiwis Peter Breakwell second on Lucas, Rachel Fields (nee York) sixth on Karl du Chateau and Duncan McFarlane seventh on Mr Whoppy.

Thomas rounded out the top 12 at the Capital City Classic in Sacramento, placing ninth on Vivaldi and 11th on Carino.

The historic third leg win earned him an extra US$70,000 ($102,000) in bonuses.

An ecstatic Thomas did not even know what he had also amassed in prize money - estimated at another US$80,000 for the three grand prix wins.

Thomas, 32, is hopeful his efforts have caught the eye of New Zealand selectors, who are deciding on the team to compete at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in September.

"This win is for my parents [Butch and Lou Thomas]," said Thomas. "I couldn't have better backers than them - they've put me on brilliant horses and in a spot to win."

Thomas was last of eight to go in the jump-off yesterday. Ahead of him Breakwell had set the pace that none had been able to match. However, Thomas and Peterbilt - a half brother to Katie McVean's (Mystery Creek) Dunstan Delphi, the current New Zealand Showjumper of the Year - not only went clear, but came home with two seconds to spare.

"My horse has just been outstanding," Thomas said of his 10-year-old mount. "He's been fantastic all year. Winning the Triple Crown is right up there for me - I feel finally I have really grown in my riding."

Next weekend they will start at the first of the Spruce Meadows tournaments, and Thomas is hopeful he will be at Kentucky in September.

"That's the goal. Hopefully all will stay as it is and I will keep riding properly and stay out of his way. He's a fighter this horse - just incredible."

- NZPA

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