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Matthew Grayling maintains lead after XC at Kihikihi World Cup Qualifier
Te Awamutu, New Zealand

Matthew Grayling extended his lead on the Montgomery family's NRM Gordon on cross-country day at the World Cup qualifier at Kihikihi on Saturday. Grayling and NRM Gordon, the winners last year, jumped clear with 12.4 time penalties for an overnight score of 59.1, and has a ten point buffer going into Sunday's showjumping.

Kate Wood, Whangarei, pulled up from seventh position after Friday's dressage, going clear on Staccato with 8 time penalties, to lie second overnight on 69.1, marginally ahead of the local stars, Chelsey Hawthorn, from Ohaupo, and the diminutive Look At That, who scorched around with just 1.6 time penalties, the only combination to take all the direct routes, finishing on 70.5.

Hawthorn was second behind Grayling last year, thanks to a fast clear cross-country, and she thrilled the crowd again this year, showing that it was possible to conquer all the challenges set by course designer John Nicholson, and rewarding all his effort in producing a course of such stature.

Annabel Wigley, Christchurch, jumped clear on Black Drum, but with 24.8 time penalties, which dropped her from second place after the dressage to fourth after cross-country on a score of 76.3, while Trans-Tasman team member Katherine Van Tuyl, Woodville, was clear on Underhand with 18 time penalties to lie fifth on 78.7.

Eight riders completed the demanding cross-country phase. One retired after running out twice at one of the narrow stump houses, one was eliminated for exceeding the time allowed, and there was one withdrawal before the start. International judge and former Olympian, Gillian Rolton, from South Australia, said, "They all coped, and that was good," adding that, "It was world class."

KIHIKIHI WORLD CUP QUALIFIER Standings after cross-country: M.Grayling, NRM Gordon, 59.1, 1; K.Wood, Staccato, 69.1, 2; C.Hawthorn, Look At That, 70.5, 3; A.Wigley, Black Drum, 76.3, 4; K.Van Tuyl, Underhand, 78.7, 5.

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