All roads lead to France this week for the grand final of the cash-rich Event Rider Masters series at Lignieres en Berry.
New Zealand has its power couple Tim and Jonelle Price flying the flag high in the CCI4*-S ERM class and well in the running to pocket a portion of the €100,000 prize purse. But first, they will have to head home 23 of the biggest names in eventing.
Badminton and Luhmuhlen winner Jonelle, who has entered aboard Grovine de Reve, is the best placed of the Kiwis in the rankings, sitting in fourth spot, just six points adrift of leader Chris Burton (AUS). World no.1 Tim, who is in on his Luhmuhlen winner Ascona M is in 12th.
This will be 11-year-old Grovine de Reve’s fifth international start with Jonelle. The combo were second in the CCI4*-L at Cappoquin in July, sixth in the ERM at Jardy and ninth in their first ever start together, the ERM at Wiesbaden.
Tim and his 11-year-old grey Holsteiner mare Ascona M have had two wins from two starts with victory at both Luhmuhlen CCI5*-L and Tattersalls CCI4*-S, and are a solid partnership. She’s been with Team Price for all of her international competitive life.
It is a star-studded field for the grand finale including the three previous series champs and 10 previous leg winners. But pundits are pointing to six of the best who have a shot at the series, and that includes Jonelle alongside Chris Burton, Sarah Cohen (GBR), Alex Bragg (GBR) and Gemma Tattersall (GBR). Tim is most certainly in the picture for the final, as is Michael Jung (GER) and Oliver Townend (GBR). There is £50,000 prize money per leg with £30,000 to the series victor. But it’s not just all about the Event Rider Masters at Lignieres where they’ve attracted a record 220 horses and counting.
Hollie Swain and her 10-year-old chestnut stallion Solo are on debut in the CCI4*-S class where they are joined by Tim Price and his eight-year-old Spartaco.
There are seven New Zealand eventers in the CCI3*-L. Andrew Nicholson has a trio entered with the seven-year-old Argentino BK, eight-year-old Monbeg Exclusive and seven-year-old Coolparks Sarco. Tim has both Lime Rickey and his old mate Wesko with whom he has achieved so much, with Hollie in on her eight-year-old Irish sport horse Drumnaconnel Nico and Tayla Mason on her eight-year-old Centennial.
The competition gets underway on Wednesday (October 2) with the first horse inspection for the CCI3*-L class followed by dressage on Thursday and Friday, cross country on Saturday and showjumping on Sunday. The ERM runs through Saturday and Sunday.
WHAT: Concours Complet International de Lignieres, including the Event Rider Masters Final
WHEN: October 4-7
WHERE: Lignieres, France
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The horse details:
Grovine de Reve – owned by Therese Miller, Philip Hunt and Jo Preston-Hunt
Ascona M – owned by Suzanne Houchin, Lucy and Ben Sangster and Sir Peter Vela
Spartaco – owned by Tim Price
Solo – owned by John Bodenham
Centennial – owned by Sonya Mason, Sue Rutter and Tayla Mason
Argentino BK – owned by Andrew Nicholson
Coolparks Sarco – owned by Andrew Nicholson
Monbeg Exclusive – owned by Cartoni Simoncini Beatrice
Lime Rickey – owned by Constance Edmundson
Wesko – owned by the Windrush Equestrian Foundation
Drumnaconnell Nico – owned by Hollie Swain
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison