Eventing world number two Tim Price left WEG “a little bit frustrated” but still proud of Cekatinka, as was wife Jonelle about her mount Classic Moet.
“I can’t say enough about how determined and tough and athletic she is,” said 39-year-old Tim. “I am actually really happy with my mare.”
Their uncharacteristic rail at the eighth fence in the showjumping cost them a podium spot – clear and they would have claimed silver but instead with such a tight leaderboard it left them in eighth spot on 31.2 penalty points.
“She has had very few rails in her career . . . and she just tries so hard. She had just one down, which is disappointing, but she jumped really well and I am very excited for her. It didn’t cost me the gold medal, so that’s ok.”
Cekatinka was produced to 2* level by WEG individual champion Ros Canter (GBR) and is owned by Joanne Pullan.
Tim and the 11-year-old British-bred mare (by King Kolibri out of Katinka who is by Julio Mariner) were ninth after the dressage (27.2 penalty points) and added nothing to their score in the cross country to sit in sixth coming into the final phase where just 16 of the 70 remaining combinations went clear and inside time.
The showjumping course, designed by Irishman Alan Wade, was as beautifully presented as the cross country had been. The open flowing course presented its fair shar of challenges with some surprise results from unlikely combinations.
Tim questioned whether it had been made more challenging given riders had a rest day curtesy of Hurricane Florence.
“It was a strong track and we had to work hard all the way around it,” he said. All the pressure came down to New Zealand’s golden couple – Tim and Jonelle Price – and both commented on the need for more depth.
“We need to get a bit more depth in our team so that we have more to choose from. Having said that, it is just one of those things – you can sometimes have a mistake and a couple of silly moments (on the cross country) which may or may not have happened . . . but they did and that is the way it is so we will just work forward from there.”
The Rio Olympian said the Games has been a bit of a roller coaster for the Kiwis and that was disappointing but he was pleased to nail qualification for Tokyo 2020.
That was reiterated by world number five Jonelle. “It certainly wasn’t the objective of coming here but it is something to salvage out of the week and certainly takes the pressure off for the next 12 months,” she said.
She was really pleased with her Badminton winner Classic Moet. The 15-year-old black mare (out of Gamston Bubbles who is by Bohemond) took rails at the fourth and ninth fences in the showjumping – eight combinations picked up faults at the ninth.
Thirty-seven-year-old Jonelle and Classic Moet were in 30thafter their 30 penalty point dressage, and their super clear cross country – the fastest of the day – saw them rocket up to 12thcoming into the showjumping where their eight faults saw them finish in 19thplace on 38 penalty points.
The combination had previously placed fourth at WEG in 2014.
The two-time Olympian was adamant the decision to push the showjumping out by a day was the wrong one. “We compete in conditions like that all the time in England – there was nothing spectacular about it.”
But her love of Classic Moet is clear to see and she was delighted with her. “I feel it is a duty I owe her (to go clear in the cross country),” she said. “She is an incredible athlete – I don’t think I will ever sit on another quite like her for cross country. So as much as you have to endure the dressage, it is all so worth it come Saturday.”
Nerves are never an issue for her. “When you come home from these sorts of courses not having had a nervous moment you know you are on a pretty good horse and I am very lucky to be in that position.”
Jonelle, who has won two 4* events this year, says she needs the competition to unwind in a particular way for Classic Moet to be hugely competitive. “It hasn’t quite played our way but nevertheless, she has been fantastic from start to finish. She goes home happy and sound and we will look to Badminton in the spring.”
Classic Moet is owned by Trisha Rickards and Jonelle. By the final day of competition Tim and Jonelle were looking forward to getting back to baby Otis. “We have a very good nanny in Harriett and are lucky to be able to go away like this,” said Jonelle. “He’s been on holiday in the Lake District with Harriett’s family having a great time.”
By Diana Dobson, New Zealand team media liaison
Photo by Libby Law Photography