Words – Shannan Makauskas
Photo – Roz Neave
Christopher Burton has returned to Australia after finishing second on HP Leilani at the first of the World Cup events in Kihikihi, New Zealand. After a polished dressage test and clear cross-country round, Christopher added one rail and one time penalty in the showjumping phase to finish on 50.9 penalties. Fellow Aussie competitor, Shane Rose, also dropped a rail in the showjumping on Taurus and finished in 4th place with 54.7 penalties. New Zealand’s Clarke Johnstone rode Orient Express to win the event on their dressage score of 45.7 penalties. You can see the full results from the competition here
I caught up with Christopher to get his take on the event: “It was great fun, it’s an excellent show over there and we had really good weather, super going, it was a good venue and really good track.”
Christopher was thrilled with their performance: “I’m really excited and we were all so happy with Leilani, she’s a reliable horse and she performed really well. Thanks to Leilani’s owners, Jade and Jean Findlay, I’m having a lot of fun with the mare. When we took her to the World Equestrian Games last year we didn’t have a desired result, but she came through it well and she’s really improved every bit of the way here. I’m just excited to have such supportive owners who are allowing me to keep the ride on her.”
The fences at Kihikihi were bigger than expected: “It was a tough course, I’ve seen footage of the course before, unfortunately television footage doesn’t do eventing fences much justice. When I got there I saw one of the biggest ditch brushes I think I’ve ever seen, and fence three was a really tricky line with three strides to a big brush apex. It was more like a three and a half star in my opinion, I thought it was very tough.”
Christopher will be spending some time abroad: “I’ll be doing the last half of the season in the UK and I’m really looking forward to doing all there big shows. To start with I’ll be basing at Sam Griffiths place. Luckily, the high performance program still runs over there, so I’ll get to see Prue (Barrett – National Eventing Coach) and the crew periodically, which will be good. All those things like trainers, coaches, vets and farriers are something that I’ll have to try and establish new relationships with and get sorted out.”
The next event in the FEI World Cup Eventing series will be in Sydney from the 6th-8th of May. Christopher won the event last year on HP Leilani, while Clarke Johnstone and Orient Express placed 3rd. You can see the results from that clash here It will be interesting to see what happens when these two talented riders meet again!