Jonelle Price and Classic Moet this morning propelled themselves from 22nd to the top of the leaderboard after a stunning cross country effort at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.
They were the fastest combination on course, going over time by just a second and picking up 0.4 penalties to finish the day on 28. Overnight leader Oliver Townend (GBR) and Ballaghmor Class picked up 7.2 time penalties to also finish on 28 but in second place as Price was closest to the optimum time.
Of the 10 Kiwi combinations, seven came home clear. Sir Mark Todd is in 6th place aboard Kiltubrid Rhapsody on 33.4 penalty points, and 10th on Leonidas II with 36.3. Defending champ Andrew Nicholson and Nereo are in 12th on 37.5, with Tim Price 14th on Ringwood Sky Boy with 38.2.
Caroline Powell was clear with both her horses and sits in 33rd spot with On the Brash on 65.1 and trailblazer Up Up and Away, who sits in 36th spot on 67.7. First-timers Virginia Thompson and Star Nouveau picked up 11 faults for a frangible pin activation and some time penalties to finish on 70.2 in 39th, with Dan Jocelyn and Dassett Cool Touch on 81.4 in 44th. Andy Daines and Spring Panorama were eliminated late in the course.
But the day belonged to Jonelle Price. “She is some horse at cross country,” she said of Classic Moet. “Her speed is quite phenomenal. There really is no other like her and to show that time and time again is really special.”
She had worried they would be “a little rusty” coming into Badminton with just one run but she needn’t have. They had to take the long option at the lake but quickly made up the time.
“We certainly dug ourselves out of that hole and to get that close to the time after having to take the long option was really remarkable. We were 16 seconds down at one stage. I owe it all to her. She is some mare and comes into her own on a day like that.”
In true Price style, Jonelle is taking things “one phase at a time”. “Tomorrow is another day. She looks good tonight and we will get out there and do what we can tomorrow.”
Todd figures the hold-up he had on course with Kiltubrid Rhapsody probably didn’t do the horse any harm. “He hasn’t got a lot of thoroughbred in him and he was starting to feel a little laboured going up that avenue, so I was nursing him a bit,” said Todd. “It has been a great day and my horses have gone really well.”
Nicholson said riders needed to work all the way around the course. “I was relieved I was on Nereo,” he said. “Once you leave the start box you don’t notice (the crowd) – you don’t listen, you don’t watch, you just look at the jumps and do what you do. The ground out there is good for horses but makes them tired.”
Tim Price said Ringwood Sky Boy had been rearing to go. “He was happy to run and gallop but just a little unruly at the fences, and in particular things off the right rein so I had a bit of a moment where I had to make a snap decision to go long at the water because I just didn’t feel I had the control I needed,” he said. “He stayed tidy where it was important and got the job done.”
It was disappointing for him to see the clock “fading away” on his wrist. “That was the nature of the day and it is going to be like that for everyone.”
Powell was pleased with both her horses. “You just don’t know what you have got until you try them and put your foot down,” she said. “They were both very good.”
Thompson was full of praise for her mare. “It was pretty big and didn’t all quite go to plan but she just kept trying,” she said of Star Nouveau. “She was just awesome.”
Jocelyn said he had a fantastic ride apart from a run out when coming out of the water. “I am still running that through my head . . . and am absolutely gutted. I am thrilled with the way the horse finished though – full or running and happy as Larry.”
Eric Winter’s course was as riders had predicted – not the toughest, but with some quirky challenges and a tight time. Forty-four combinations came home clear, but all with time penalties. Three picked up 11 faults for frangible pin activation and nine had jumping faults. Nine retired on course, with 11 eliminated.
Tomorrow’s showjumping will be a pressure cooker with not even a rail between the top four, and less than two in the top nine.
CLICK HERE to view the full results and all start lists and times
Jumping – First Part
Sun 6th May 11.30am
Sun 6th 10.30pm
Jumping – Top 20
Sun 6th May 2.45pm
Mon 7th 1.45am
CLICK HERE to watch all the coverage FREE via Badminton TV including the First Horse Inspection
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ