New Zealand’s golden couple of eventing proved their worth today at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in North Carolina.
Tim and Jonelle Price were both clear and inside time with Tim and Cekatinka moving up three spots to sixth place on 27.2 penalty points at the end of the day and Jonelle aboard Classic Moet jumping from 30thto 12thon 30 penalty points.
Just 16 of the 81 combinations continue on their dressage scores with Ingrid Klimke (GER) and SAP Hale Bob OLD moving up a spot to take the lead on 23.3 penalty points. Just a single showjumping rail covers the top seven combinations.
And while the Prices – with Tim at number two in the world and Jonelle at five – shone for the Kiwis, it wasn’t such a good day for their team-mates Sir Mark Todd and Blyth Tait.
Tait and Dassett Courage were the trail blazers for the New Zealand team but, by his own admission, had a day that resembled his worst nightmare. The two were eliminated mid field. “I am not quite sure what happened out there,” said a hugely disappointed Tait. “He was so far out of character it was unbelievable. He just didn’t really want to go an inch. It really was the worst possible start for the Kiwi team.”
Todd and McClaren had a cheeky run-out at the same combination that bothered Tait and many others today on the Captain Mark Phillips-designed course and sit on 69 penalty points in 58thspot. “It is actually pretty tough out there,” said Todd. “My horse got distracted by the crowds (at the second water combination) and he had a run out there but you just have to be focused all the way round. I had a really good ride except for that.”
Individual rider Dan Jocelyn was rapt with the efforts of Grovine de Reve who came home clear with time penalties to finish the day on 46 penalty points in 43rdspot.
“I said to him ‘this is going to be tough Reve. You are going to have to dig deep’, and he did. He was tired at the end but kept his jump for me,” said Jocelyn. “This was a big ask for him. I couldn’t be happier.”
But for the Kiwis, the day belonged to the Prices who between them have claimed three 4* crowns since May. Tim was fairly bursting with pride at the efforts of his “super wee mare” when he finished the course. “She is such a classic little jumper with her technique. She stays low, very focused and is nimble.”
The course’s undulations added an extra dimension for riders. “She just suited it down to the ground. I couldn’t be more pleased with bringing her along here,” he said. “I learnt a long time ago not to take anything for granted until the finish flags come around.”
But he needn’t have worried – his beautiful little British-bred mare made it look easy. “She is just a cracker and really suited this track. I started with a good rhythm. I found just what I wanted at numb roe and thought ‘OK, it is going to be here for the taking for me today’.”
The showjumping would call for a cool head. “The way the scoring is, with it all very tight at the top, you have to go in there and keep cool and calm and nail it in the showjumping . . .and that is what I plan to do with her. She is a great jumper and we will bring our best game forward.”
Last to go for the team was Jonelle Price who finished with a grin from ear to ear just as fast as she started aboard her beautiful Badminton-winning mare Classic Moet. “In a funny way I feel more pressure on me riding her because I know how good she is. She has proven that time and time again over the last four years,” she said. “I certainly had an easy ride from start to finish.”
She felt well aware of the pressure of coming home without the penalties. “I knew if I came home a second over the time I would be in huge trouble!”
Jonelle is full of praise for her horse.” She is an incredible athlete – I don’t think I will ever sit on another quit like her for cross country. So as much as you have to endure the dressage, it is so worth it come Saturday.”
The impending arrival of Hurricane Florence has seen all competition cancelled tomorrow at the Champs – a hugely unusual situation and one that has been very controversial. Pushing the eventing showjumping out a day didn’t sit well with Jonelle.
“I think it is absurd,” she said. “The whole point of jumping the day after cross country is the horse who can recover the best and close their stride and be careful. Giving them an extra day is a whole different kettle of fish.”
Chef d’equipe Graeme Thom felt the day had brought a “classic mix” of the good with the bad. “Jonelle and Tim continued with their exceptional form and in a great space to put lots of pressure on the few combinations ahead of them in individual medal contention,” he said.
The team would be chasing an Olympic qualification at Monday’s showjumping.
The horse details:
McClaren – owned by David and Katherine Thomson
Cekatinka – owned by Joanne Pullan
Classic Moet – owned by Trisha Rickards and Jonelle Price
Grovine de Reve – owned by Therese Miller, Jo Preston-Hunt Philip Hunt and Dan Jocelyn
Dassett Courage – owned by Thomas Barr, Sally Grant and Blyth Tait
For full results, head to – https://www.rechenstelle.de/en/agenda/2018/tryon-nc/
By Diana Dobson, New Zealand tam media liaison
Photos by Libby Law Photography