Equestrian: Balmoral a sensation at Puhinui

Balmoral Sensation lived up to his name during the dressage phase of the Puhinui three-day event in Manukau today.

Donna Smith's second ride in the advanced CCI*** class, the exciting young horse showed just how good he is by taking an 8.6-point lead.

South Islander Annabel Wigley is in second place on NRM Frog Rock, just in front of veteran Bryce Newman on Bates Trademark.

However, in eventing, it's not over until the end of the showjumping phase on the third day and, with fewer than 20 points between the highest and lowest placed horse after the dressage, it could be anyone's competition.

While the weather was an improvement on the previous day, the cold, windy conditions were not ideal for dressage. The rain held of for the competitors in the CCI*** but no so for the other classes.

Helensville's Shelley Ross on Coleraine Coaltown is leading the CCI** from Sam Taylor. In the CCI*, international eventer Clarke Johnstone on Vincent is leading the field with Chloe Kennedy and Fraser King trailing.

Tomorrow's cross country day is all-important, and the Tich Massey-built course promises to test the horses and riders.