World no.2 Jonelle Price will be looking to stake another strong claim in the world of CCI5*-L at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event in the United States this week.
She and McClaren made quite the statement at their 5* debut at Pau in October with a third placing and will be chasing more in Kentucky. It is an event she always looks forward to, having competed in the 5* there three times previously with two top 10 finishes there last year – a third aboard Grovine de Reve and seventh with Classic Moet.
“I am grateful and excited to at Kentucky this year with McClaren,” says Jonelle. “We will be looking to build on our 5* debut at Pau where McClaren went so well. He hasn’t had the most conventional life story having been a late starter to the game but his quality and talent combined with a lot of hard work and training have seen him get to this point. I couldn’t be more pleased for his owners David and Karie Thomson.”
There are 54 combinations on the 5* start list including Michael Jung (GER) on fischerChipmunk FRH. It is a predominantly American field, with the likes of Phillip Dutton, Bruce Davidson Jr, William Coleman and Doug Payne, but also includes Brit Pippa Funnell and riders from Ireland and Canada. Missing from the line-up is world no.1 and defending Kentucky champ Oliver Townend (GBR). Both Michael and Pippa are winners of the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing – a first for Kentucky to have two in the field.
Bruce Davidson Jr and Jak My Style will be first out, with three-time Olympian Jonelle going at 36.
Fifteen-year-old McClaren joined Jonelle in March 2020 and was previously campaigned by Sir Mark Todd. The Holstein gelding is by Clarimo out of Toni 1 (by Landjunge).
New Zealand has a strong history at Kentucky. Andrew Nicholson (2013), Blyth Tait (2000) and Nick Larkin (1998) are all etched on the winner’s trophy. Tim Price has twice been second (2021 and 2015) and was third in 2019. Oliver Townend (GBR) and Michael Jung (GER) have both won the prestigious event three times on the trot.
“It’s always a real highlight being able to attend the American 5*,” says Jonelle. “It is such a fantastic event at a truly world class venue and the public are always extremely welcoming and enthusiastic.”
US-based Joe Meyer was to contest the CCI5*-L aboard Johnny Royale, but the horse has been sold. “He’s gone to a great girl to teach her the ropes,” says Joe, who has two horses in the 48-strong CCI4*-S class. Joe and Harbin are set to go at number 11 with Buccaneer at 47.
The event gets underway on Wednesday (April 27) with the first CCI5* horse inspection, followed by two days of dressage, the Derek di Grazia-designed cross country on Saturday, and finally the Steve Stephens-designed showjumping – to be run in reverse order – on the Sunday.
It is the first time since 2019 the event has been able to have spectators on the grounds, and they are expecting around 80,000 through the gates.
The horse details:
McClaren – owned by David and Katherine Thomson
Harbin – owned by Team Johnny Syndicate
Buccaneer – owned by Team Johnny Syndicate
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Lead photo by Libby Law/ESNZ