Tim Price riding Xavier Faer. File Photo
It was a real edge of your seat finish to the CCI5*-L at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event in the United States this morning with Tim and Jonelle Price finishing second and third in a hugely competitive class.
There was so much riding on the showjumping with not just honours for this very prestigious event, but also world rankings – if Tim, who is currently world no.2, had beaten winner Oliver Townend, he would have taken the top spot in the FEI rankings.
But the golden couple of New Zealand eventing were all class this morning, with Tim second on Xavier Faer (28.2 penalty points), Jonelle third on Grovine de Reve (30.7), Jonelle and Classic Moet (35.2) seventh, Jesse Campbell and Diachello (39.5) in their first-ever 5* 11th, Tim aboard Bango (44.7) 18th and Jonelle with her debutant Grappa Nera (52) 28th.
Oliver and Ballaghmor Class finished on 27.3 penalty points, having added time penalties in the cross country while Tim on Xavier Faer and Jonelle aboard Classic Moet both finished on their dressage scores – the only two combinations in the field to do so.
The showjumping was challenging enough, with just nine of the 43 remaining combinations going clear and inside time.
There was a bit of rattling of the rails during Tim and Xavier Faer’s final round, but everything stayed in place. “He tried hard in his own special way,” said Tim. “I had to ride from the seat of my pants a little bit and throw away the plan here and there, but that is the Hugo (Xavier Faer) that we know and love.”
He was a horse who predictable with his unpredictability, according to his rider. Tim was grateful for all the effort that had gone in by so many to get everyone to Kentucky. “It was a good shot in the arm for the Kiwi contingent ahead of a great year. I am really pleased with how it has all come off.”
He was however, a little disappointed with Bango whose jumping rails saw him drop down the placings. “For whatever reason, he wasn’t quite on his game today.”
Jonelle and Grovine de Reve added just 0.4 time penalties to their score this morning in a beautiful round for their third place finish. She was rapt with all her horses. “I am obviously delighted. When I had two down on the first mare (Grappa Nera) who had warmed up so beautifully I was starting to think ‘oh dear’, but actually they were all in great form. I couldn’t be more pleased with Grovine de Reve and Classic Moet with their two clear rounds.”
The track had been a challenge. “It was a tough track – certainly the toughest I have seen at a 5* for a long time. It was big, wide and had had a few sort of unusual distances and lines, so it really did take some jumping.”
To have two horses come out and jump as well as they did was an “absolute highlight” for the two-time Olympian.
Jonelle said Oliver (Townend) had been a much-deserving winner, although admitted first and second rather than second and third would have been a bit “cooler”.
“It is just so fantastic to be back at a big one – 5* is what we do this for, so it was a really good day to be back at this level and at a competition of this calibre. Kentucky put on a fantastic competition and it was a classy field. It is exciting for us personally but really exciting for Team New Zealand and hopefully it will give us some momentum heading towards the Olympic Games.”
It was a great day for Jesse Campbell’s team with groom Hannah McLean winning the award for best turned out horse in the 5*. In the showjumping, Jesse and Diachello were all clear but added 0.8 time to their score for their 39.5 penalty point finish. The combination were also clear in their cross country yesterday, adding only time there as well.
“I am just so proud of my horse,” said Jesse. “It was a huge ask to bring him here and he has absolutely delivered in spades. He is just such an exciting horse for the future. I have produced him slowly but I think now is his moment to shine and I can’t wait for what the future holds for him. He is such a lovely horse.”
ESNZ high performance eventing manager Graeme Thom praised the efforts of organiser who had put on an event in the most difficult of times and brought the sport of eventing back to the top level. “That’s something we haven’t seen much – actually we have really only had two five stars in the last almost 18 months,” he said. “I am so happy we put in the big effort – the effort from our riders and owners to support this was just phenomenal. I can’t thank them enough.”
He also thanked ESNZ and High Performance Sport New Zealand who had assisted with the trip. “We jumped through hoops to make sure everything was safe for everybody.”
Alyssa Phillips (USA) and Oskar came from behind to take the win in the CCI4*-S after overnight leader Tamra Smith (USA) and Envogue had a rail and time faults to slip to second. The combination, who had led through both the dressage and cross country phases, finished on 40.2, with Alyssa, who was all clear, on 37.9.
The Horse Details:
Grappa Nera – owned by The Grape Syndicate and Jonelle Price
Bango – owned by The Numero Uno Syndicate
Johnny Royale – owned by Team Johnny Syndicate
Classic Moet – owned by Trisha Rickards, Jacky Green and Jonelle Price
Diachello – owned by Kent Gardner and Jesse Campbell
Xavier Faer – owned by Trisha Rickards, Nigella Hall and Tim Price
Grovine de Reve – owned by Therese Miller and Jonelle Price
Clip Clop – owned by Theresa and Madison Foote and Joe Meyer
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison