By Diana Dobson
Sharn Wordley and Barnetta have just jumped the class of their lives to place second in the Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix CSI5* in New York.
The Kiwi combo were one of 41 to start, with no-one coming home clear and inside time.
"It was one of the biggest courses I have ever jumped, " said Wordley. "I had to make the strategy early to ensure I was quick enough so that if I had a rail, we would be fast."
His plan was right on the money. They had a late rail but took second place as the fastest four-faulter. Andre Thieme (GER) and Conthendrix, who flew in for the class, took the win with a single time fault.
Barnetta's third placing yesterday in the $100,000 Hudson Valley Jumper Classic gave Wordley a quiet confidence heading into the big class.
"He just schooled around yesterday for third, so I thought we had a very good shot if they built it big, and they did. He was extremely unlucky not to win - he barely breathed on that rail. We were just so close to winning. The horse just jumped unbelievably."
They were five seconds faster than Thieme, who Wordley said had a couple of "very lucky" rubs.
"We have had a great two years but I have some really good horses at the moment. When you have that quality of horses, it helps a lot."
It was Barnetta's (owned by the Sky Group) first 5* start and clearly the biggest course he had ever faced.
"We have been training and getting his confidence up and he's done some good 3-4* classes in the lead up to this. Casper was my first choice for the week because he is so reliable, but Barnetta is potentially the better horse. The way he jumped today, he has propelled himself to being my first choice for the World Equestrian Games - he did it so easily."
He was so ridable and jumped so well. It was just amazing. I have jumped a few 5* in my career but never one as easy as that round over a course that everyone was saying it was the biggest they have seen in a long time," he said. "I am really ecstatic."
Barnetta is a 13-year-old Germany bred bay Westphalian gelding who is by Baloubet du Rouet.
For full results, head to http://hits.showmanagementsystem.com/east/