World number two eventer Tim Price is the best of the Kiwis at the end of the dressage at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in North Carolina.
He and Cekatinka scored 27.2 penalty points to sit in ninth equal place with Blyth Tait and Dassett Courage next on 29.7 in 29thJonelle Price aboard Classic Moet in 31ston 30 and Sir Mark Todd and McClaren in 40thon 31.4. The team is in sixth place, well in touch with leaders Germany. Individual competitor Dan Jocelyn and Grovine de Reve scored 32.8.
Julia Krajewski (GER) and Chipmunk FRH lead the 83-strong field on 19.9. But there is still much to play for with Hurricane Florence bearing down on the state and a challenging cross country track to be ridden.
Tim Price may say his “hot little mare” Cekatinka lacked experience at this top level, but she was every bit the picture on her way to a 27.2 penalty point mark. They got a huge cheer from Kiwi supporters and fans both coming in and on completion of their dressage.
“It is very tight around that 27 mark,” said the 2018 Burghley winner. “You just want to go in and be normal, and for the most part she stayed focused apart from a bit of irritation mid-test.”
He was unsure what bothered the 11-year-old British-bred mare but thought perhaps a bug in her ear. However, she came back to him and they continued to do the best test of their career.
He’d had a little pep talk from wife Jonelle before his dressage but couldn’t remember exactly what was said. “It was probably truthful but annoying at the same time.” He did admit he does take her advice when talking dressage, but their roles were reversed for the cross country.
Tim expects the cross country to be very demanding. “No-one knows what the time will be like. A difficult time heightens difficulty everywhere else,” he said. But he quickly backed that up by saying the Kiwis were “pretty gutsy” and could now focus their full attention on the next phase. “There is plenty to do out there. She is a very fast horse (in the cross country) and has a big stride.”
He has come to WEG feeling confidence from his Burghley victory but there were many potential places to slip up on the course.
Badminton winner Jonelle Price was “happy enough” with Classic Moet’s 30 penalty point dressage effort admitting she wouldn’t believe the two could reach such a mark at WEG if asked a couple of years ago. However, since then they have well and truly shown they are super stars. “She is not an out and out obvious dressage horse.” Jonelle had no idea when she came out how well they had gone. Despite there being a runaway leader in Julia Krajewski, it was still early days and she is looking forward to tomorrow’s cross country. “But I am a bit of a princess these days. I wouldn’t mind if it buckets down beforehand but I don’t want it torrential when I go around.” However, Classic Moet has run well before in difficult conditions so is more than capable in all sorts of weather. “That’s why she is here.”
Dan Jocelyn had a blip in his Games when he forgot a movement towards the end of his test. Despite that, the 48-year-old, who is riding as an individual at WEG, still notched his best-ever 4* score with their 32.8 penalty point effort.
It was Grovine de Reve’s first-ever 4* dressage test and Dan was very pleased with the 10-year-old Irish-bred gelding’s efforts. “I love the horse,” he said. “He has gone from strength to strength. I am thrilled with the way he has performed.”
Those sentiments were echoed by co-owner Terry Miller. “We couldn’t be more proud,” she said. “He had him just right out there.”
Dan felt 10-year-old Grovine de Reve produced some of his best trot work and he was also happy with his canter and the way he had settled in the arena. “He is rising to the challenge.”
Dan said they had been doing short sharp sessions with the horses to keep them peppy. He also praised the cooling efforts organisers had available for the horses.
The Athens Olympian admits being the individual rider has made him even hungrier to do well. He was very disappointed with his error on course – the first time the professional rider has done so at a championship. “I was shocked actually,” he said. Dan had to look to ground jury member Andrew Bennie to find out just what he had missed.
“It was a mistake that just shouldn’t have happened.”
However, he thinks his horse will enjoy tomorrow’s cross country. “There are some fairly big questions early on.” There were jumps and combinations that would take “a bit of riding” and called for riders to be on their game. “It’s strong all the way to the finish. I’ll be looking at my watch at the bottom of the hill and it will be a case of getting home.”
The horse loved jumping in the rain and Dan felt his Irish breeding would help him on that front.
The riders appreciated all the messages of support from home. “They’ve been really great!”
Chef d’equipe Graeme Thom said it was a great finish to the dressage phase.
“Dan rode his best test ever with Grovine de Reve,” said Graeme. “The smile on his face showed it. Tim continues to get more and more out of his wonderful mare Cekatinka. Her extensions really wowed the crowd. Jonelle dealt extremely well with a strong horse in Classic Moët and looks poised and ready for tomorrow’s cross country.”
Graeme said that after much discussion and head scratching by the ground jury the Kiwis were very happy that Hurricane Florence has slowed down enough to allow them to run the cross country track in its entirety.
“There had been discussions about reducing it by two minutes,” he said. “Fingers crossed for tomorrow.”
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, NZ Team media liaison
Photos by Libby Law Photography