08 May 2011

Sydney: Johnstone bags another FEI Eventing World Cup qualifier

8 May 2011

Twenty-four-year-old Clarke Johnstone travelled across the Tasman with his horse Orient Express to contest the second FEI Eventing World Cup qualifier of the season.  It was well worth his while as he clinched the victory this afternoon at Sydney International Equestrian Centre, Horsley Park, barely a month after winning round one of the FEI World Cup in New Zealand.

Johnstone, who hails from Hamilton (NZL), was in second place going into the final phase.  Less than a rail separated the top three riders. Johnstone’s handsome thoroughbred looked perfectly at ease in the arena and the pair demonstrated cool temperaments and great skill to finish on their Dressage score of 45.4 penalties.

Olympic silver medallist Shane Rose and the 8-year-old Taurus were leading the event going into the show jumping phase and you could hear a pin drop when he entered the arena. But his chance at victory ended at fence 1 as the back rail of the oxer rolled off. A further rail at fence 6 dropped them to third place.

Christopher Burton on Holstein Park Leilani jumped a magnificent clear to finish second.  Stuart Tinney and Vettori showed their experience executing a faultless round to claim fourth.

Johnstone, a team silver medallist from the 2010 World Equestrian Games, won the Kihikihi FEI World Cup qualifier in New Zealand in April.  Today’s results were almost a replica of the New Zealand event where Burton finished second and Rose was fourth (Johnstone also placed was third on another horse, Incognito). Tinney did not make the trip to New Zealand.

Johnstone’s double victory puts him in a strong position to win the overall point-score and the accompanying €30,000 prize money. There are seven FEI Eventing World Cup qualifiers held in seven countries, a rider’s best three results in any of these qualifiers will count toward their final points.

Johnstone is planning to travel to England with Orient Express, where he will be based in the lead-up to the London Olympic Games.  Whilst in the northern hemisphere he will have the opportunity to compete in more FEI World Cup qualifiers. Christopher Burton, currently second on the FEI World Cup leader-board is also headed to the United Kingdom with Holstein Park Leilani.

Full results can be found at www.sydneyeventing.org

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