Ricker Ridge Divine Right xx (His Royal Highness xx - Centa Juanita xx x Centaine xx) ridden by Samantha Felton.

By Sally Reid
Photography: Pegasus Communications

Even though it was held in perfect, early summer weather, this year’s Puhinui was a rather rocky road (and definitely a boggy one!) for all competitors. The ground had not fully recovered from heavy rain in the weeks leading up to the event, and dressage arenas quickly turned into hoof-grasping quagmires. Two-star horses competed in difficult conditions, leaving the arena in an impossible state for the three-star dressage, which was moved to an emergency spot on the cross-country course. Even though it was held in perfect, early summer weather, this year’s Puhinui was a rather rocky road (and definitely a boggy one!) for all competitors. The ground had not fully recovered from heavy rain in the weeks leading up to the event, and dressage arenas quickly turned into hoof-grasping quagmires. Two-star horses competed in difficult conditions, leaving the arena in an impossible state for the three-star dressage, which was moved to an emergency spot on the cross-country course.

The cross-country itself was the deciding factor: only one three-star horse completed the course clear within the time, and only five of the original 11 went through to tackle the show jumping. This was held in another temporary arena in an effort to provide decent footing. Again, only one horse – though not the same one – went clear and inside the time.
So, not the competition the organizers had hoped for, but admirable efforts from all five three-star horses who made it through to the end!
The winner was Ricker Ridge Divine Right xx (His Royal Highness xx - Centa Juanita xx x Centaine xx), a beautiful Thoroughbred mare ridden by Samantha Felton. Thoroughbred geldings are the absolute mainstay of eventing in New Zealand, but Thoroughbred mares are a lot rarer, as most are retained for breeding duties at racing studs. RR Divine Right, who is now 11 years old, was actually bred by a racing man, Craig Dawson of Whangateau Thoroughbreds. Neither she nor her dam Centa Juanita raced, and she is not registered with the NZ Studbook. She first appeared in competitions with young Northland rider Amber Goulding, and was talent-spotted by Sam Felton at a showjumping day. “I thought, ‘that horse should be eventing’, so I pounced and was able to buy her a few months later,” she says. RR Divine Right is jointly owned by Pip McCarroll, former NZEF Director of Coaching.
Some time ago, when the mare was still at two-star level, Felton described her as ‘insanely bold and very careful; hands down the best cross-country horse I have ever had’ which is quite an accolade as she has some very good horses in her team (and finished third in this competition on another). “She didn't much like the warmup ring for dressage at Puhinui – she struggled in that, but by the time cross-country came around I think it had dried just enough that she could skip along the top instead of getting caught in the gluey conditions...CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO BREEDING NEWSSUBSCRIBERS CAN READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE BY LOGGING IN AND RETURNING TO THIS PAGE