A strong Kiwi contingent will be without defending champ Jonelle Price when the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials kicks off this week. The two-time CCI5*-L winner was chasing back-to-back victories aboard Classic Moet but last night announced they were withdrawing.
“Sadly, we have made the tough decision to withdraw Classic Moet. We have struggled with her feet in this unseasonably dry sprint and it is no secret she likes a bit of rain,” said Jonelle. “I was very much looking forward to defending our title but it’s obviously not meant to be this time around.”
She wished the best of the field good luck with a quick jab at husband Tim. “It’s all down to you to keep the trophy with Team Price now, no pressure.”
There are six very strong Kiwi combinations chasing glory at the world’s oldest, richest and most prestigious horse trials. New Zealand has a stellar record at Badminton – Jonelle’s 2018 victory was just the latest in an impressive line that includes four victories for Sir Mark Todd (2011, 1996, 1994 and 1980), one for Andrew Nicholson (2017) and one for Jock Paget (2013). Sir Mark’s 2011 victory was particularly special as it came just three years after his eight-year retirement. Andrew’s 2017 victory was all the more amazing as it was just 18 months after he had broken his neck.
Tim has two horses on the card including his 2018 Burghley winner, 16-year-old Ringwood Sky Boy who has been hugely consistent at CCI5*-L level, along with 13-year-old Bango who has started at Kentucky, Luhmuhlen and Burghley but this will be his first Badminton effort.
Sir Mark has entered aboard the 17-year-old NZB Campino who was his team bronze-medal-winning London Olympic Games horse. The combination has competed at all the Northern Hemisphere CCI5*-L events, placing fourth at Badminton in 2017 and fifth at Luhmuhlen in 2015.
Sir Mark has had a very busy lead into the event with the re-ignition of his racing career, this time with He’s Eminent who he brought from the UK to the Southern Hemisphere to race in Australia before bouncing the horse back to Hong Kong for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Sha Tin. Sir Mark squeezed in a UK cross country training session with the rest of the New Zealand squad with Captain Mark Phillips, notched a win at Bicton Arena Horse Trials with NZB Campino before jumping back on a plane for Hong Kong.
Andrew Nicholson has entered his 11-year-old gelding Swallow Springs who placed third at Burghley in 2018 in their first CCI5*-L start together.
Ginny Thompson and her 15-year-old mare Star Nouveau earned plenty of praise for their completion of Badminton last year and will be looking to move up the ranks this year while Jesse Campbell and Cleveland will also be keen to make their mark at this top level.
Great British riders will be keen to see their country in lights. In the past decade, there have been just two winning British riders in Oliver Townend and William Fox-Pitt. Hopes will be high with three of the four British team gold medal winners from the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games on the start list.
Oliver will come into the event on a high as the recent winner at the Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event. There are seven previous winners in the field along with the individual silver medallist from WEG, Padraig McCarthy (IRE).
Cross country designer Eric Winter is back for the third year and looks to be keeping to his philosophy of making his tracks as natural as possible.
The horse details:
Classic Moet – owned by Trisha Rickards and Jonelle Price
Ringwood Sky Boy – owned by Varenna Allen, Robert Taylor and Tim Price
Bango – owned by Numero Uno Syndicate
NZB Campino – owned by New Zealand Bloodstock and Sir Mark Todd
Swallow Springs – owned by Paul and Diana Ridgeon
Cleveland – owned by Kent Gardner and Jesse Campbell
Star Nouveau – owned by Elaine Butterworth, Anthony Quirk and Virginia Thompson
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison