Wigley sees weather as key to win

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2012

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Amberley's Annabel Wigley had good reason to glance skyward with some anxiety before the Puhinui horse trials.

The effects of the fatal tornado that tore through Auckland's Hobsonville suburb yesterday were felt in Manukau where the CCI three-star equestrian event will be staged in the next three days.

Wigley, who hopes to use the event as a launching pad to return to England next year, was left wondering what effect the heavy rain would have on the cross-country course and her chances of collecting her second crown in the prestigious event.

"We may have to wait until Saturday morning to see what the cross-country course is like - we probably won't know until then. The weather is supposed to fine up, so we are hoping that is the case."

Lightning flashes and thunderstorms, which have the potential to spook riders and horses, will be the last thing the competitors will want for today's dressage which will be followed by the cross-country tomorrow and Sunday's show jumping.

Wigley, who has entered Frog Rock and Enzo, at least knows what is required to swamp her competition, after collecting the title with Black Drum eight years ago.

Having sold Black Drum before she left the United Kingdom in 2010, Wigley hopes to groom Frog Rock and Enzo for the big time and is still aiming to move to the northern hemisphere next year.

Puhinui is ranked as one of the top events in the southern hemisphere and Wigley accepts some good fortune may play part of her destiny.

"We have had a few hiccups this week, Enzo has had a funny infection in his shoulder and has been a bit sore but hopefully he will be fine this weekend," she said.

"I also have a young horse here this week and there have been some frustrations there too . . . but these sorts of things and the course will be the same for everyone else. That's all a part of the sport."

Returning to defend her title is Christen Hayde on Tanderra Sweet As and Donna Smith, the recent one-day national championships title winner, will be a contender on Just Chocolate.

Wigley was not concerned about not winning the one-day title in Taupo, having always noted she was fixed on a result in Puhinui.

"I was happy with how that went. Frog Rock was really good and, although I had a silly fall from Enzo, when he clipped an easy jump, I was very pleased with a personal best in the dressage."

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- The Press

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