Equestrian: Levin eventer Abigail Long cops 50 penalty points at HOY

By Anendra Singh

Levin eventer Abigail Long is all smiles with Enzo back in the stable after the pair copped a whopping 50 penalty points on crosscountry course today. Photo / Warren Buckland
Levin eventer Abigail Long is all smiles with Enzo back in the stable after the pair copped a whopping 50 penalty points on crosscountry course today. Photo / Warren Buckland

That Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation are leading after day two in eventing is news but hardly something that would have made you do a second take in Hastings today.

Predictably the Rio Olympians are in a class of their own on 40.5 points during the Land-Rover Horse of the Year Show with second-placed Amanda "Muzi" Pottinger and Just Kidding, on 47.2 points, waiting for them to stumble.

And Johnstone has an insurance policy out with Wolf Whistle II on 48.1 points in third place - although Abby Lawrence and mount Charlton Yamani seem content to play insurance assessors on 48.8.

But it was Abigail Long, on Enzo, who didn't just make fans at Tomoana Showgrounds ask "She what?" but also delayed the declaration of the final results this afternoon.

Long, of Levin, had the judges pulling out videotaped footage to try to decipher if she had played by the rules in negotiating her 15-year-old gelding between the red and white flags on the fourth last fence of the crosscountry course that Chris Ross, of Helensville, designed.

After the dust had settled in the expansive exhibition hall next to the main grandstand the upshot of it all was the 21-year-old rider was guilty as charged under the jurisdiction of Christian Lendolt, of Switzerland, Annabel Scrimgeour, of England, and Helen Christie, of Southland.

The verdict — a whopping 50 penalty points that saddled Long and Enzo in 20th place although she would have been only five places higher without the penalty.

Ground jurist Lendolt explained the procedure was more a "clarification" rather than a "protest" that a panel would preside over, akin to a committee at a sailing regatta.

The 51-year-old Lausanne native pointed out the first sign Long had transgressed was in not jumping straight, which the hawk-eyed panel of ground jurists had swooped on and the videotape footage had later endorsed in front of the rider.

The rules of eventing and showjumping stipulate riders must remain between the red flag on the right and the white on the left when scaling obstacles.

"On reflection of the video [it became evident] that some of the body of the horse was outside the line of the flag," Lendolt explained.

No doubt Long graciously accepted the hefty penalty.

"When you're in the spur of the moment and the adrenalin is running and you get excited you just want to get over the jump. Of course, the horse has made the effort to clear the fence but he just wasn't within the two lines of the flags," Lendolt said.

Lendolt agreed it was a knockout blow for the combo but Long always had the option of doing a U-turn to jump that fence again to concede only 20 points although the grinning former international eventer could picture himself in her riding boots taking that risk in the hope of not getting cited.

"It's a decision you make when you're the rider. You can keep going with that risk of having 50 and if you are judged clear, you can get away with it."

A beaming Long said it was a "skinny" fence sandwiched between one on either side on a curving line that they had tripped on.

"His first jump was really big before and he wanted to show he had a lot of power so he didn't make enough turn and wasn't quite square.

"Unfortunately he just went slightly more to the left."

She was mindful they had knocked out the flag and was prepared to be summonsed to appear before the panel to face the music and come out wiser for it.

"This is my first time to talk to [ground jurists] ... so it's a new process and I got 50 penalties for it but it's quite good, they let you see it and explain exactly why and understand it."

A grinning Long thought she had got away with it because "things had happened so fast" but between three strides here and there she was back in her element to complete the course rather than sweat on the repercussions.

She reconciled that with the fact that she had been riding an old gelding to glean some experience at the top level.

"When I bring my younger ones up I'll have a few more three-stars under my belt," explained the 2015-17 member of the New Zealand Young Rider team to the three-day Oceania Championship at Werribee, Melbourne, last year.

Annabel Wigley, of Christchurch, had schooled Enzo - according to eventing scribe Virginia Caro, of Takapau, she had ridden the gelding in England, which made him a "brilliant school mate" for Long.

Enzo, Long said, "is grumpy and never smiles" but she adored him.

Ground jurist Christian Lendolt, of Switzerland, says HOY Show is great but all disciplines need to cross pollinate more. Photo / Warren Buckland
Ground jurist Christian Lendolt, of Switzerland, says HOY Show is great but all disciplines need to cross pollinate more. Photo / Warren Buckland

Lendolt has a Kiwi horse, Toblerone NZPH, in his paddock in Lausanne which he bought from Ocean Beach in Hawke's Bay for "pleasure riding". Helen Bruce, of Manawatu, had schooled the mount for eventing.

He gave the HOY Show a thumbs up, considering eventing was part of a multi-discipline event, but he felt there was some room for improvement.

"I think sometimes, you know, certain disciplines maybe try to have more control so everybody needs to work together a little bit more.

"At the moment, understandably, everyone focuses on their own disciplines or what interests them."

Lendolt said it was imperative protagonists took their blinkers off to see what was transpiring with rival disciplines in a bid to find the means to work better as a unit.

Showjumping hogs the limelight while other disciplines, such as showing, dressage and eventing, play second fiddle.

"There's an awful lot going on where things kind of cross over so as eventing we need the train from the other disciplines.

"I think the collaboration is good but there should probably be better communication between each other to understand what eventing needs or we need to understand what others need to work together better," he said.

For the record, horse owner Kate Wood had schooled Wolf Whistle II to eventing level before handing the gelding over to Johnstone after winning a two-star crown at Arran Station in 2015.

- Hawkes Bay Today

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2018, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (cfusion) on production apcf03 at 19 Jul 2018 04:44:32 Processing Time: 1121ms