World no.2 Jonelle Price and fellow Olympian Caroline Powell are in France this week to compete at the Les Etoiles de Pau CCI5*-L in Pau.
Last year it was almost a Team Price quinella when Tim Price won aboard Falco and Jonelle was third on McClaren, so the Kiwis will certainly have the podium in their sights.
Jonelle is entered aboard her 11-year-old black mare Grappa Nera on whom she competed in the 5* at Kentucky last year. The Dutch-bred mare – who is by Karandasj, out of Cetonette (by Babalouba) – is described by her rider as “a real talent”. “She is extremely capable but very bright by nature,” says Jonelle. “She is certainly more established now than when she was on her debut (at 5*) at Kentucky last spring and if we can get her settled early in the week I would like to think she can produce three good phases.”
The event is the last of the Northern Hemisphere 5*s and marks the end of a very busy season for Team Price. “So it is always a welcome week come the end of such a year. In the south of France you often get some beautiful autumn sunshine and this year looks to be no exception.”
Jonelle has three times finished in the top 10 at Pau.
Caroline Powell is a long-time competitor at the French event and was in the top 10 in 2012 with Onwards and Upwards. This year she competes aboard the nine-year-old Irish sport horse Greenacres Special Cavalier, who is on debut at 5* level. The mare, who is by Cavalier Royale, out of Greenacres Touch (by Touchdown), was third in both the 4*-S for eight and nine-year-olds at Blenheim and the 4*-L at Ballindenisk in Ireland, and has been with Caroline her whole career.
“She is only nine but has answered all the questions we have put to her this year and want to keep the pressure on so she is ready for Paris,” said Caroline. “I have amazing owners and we always targeted Pau for the end of the year if she was going well. She feels great, so let’s go!”
Pau has attracted 48 athletes from 11 countries who will compete on 52 horses. There is a particularly large contingent from Great Britain including former world champ Rosalind Canter, along with Pippa Funnell, Tom McEwen, Harry Meade and Izzy Taylor. Kevin McNab is the sole entrant from Australia, while the French have a number of good combinations including Maxime Livio and Nicholas Touzaint. The winner will pocket 50,000 Euros.
The event gets underway with the first horse inspection on Thursday, with two days of dressage, the Pierre Michelet (FRA) designed cross country on Saturday, and finally the Yann Royant (FRA) designed jumping on Sunday.
CCI5* is the highest ranked eventing in the world, and Pau is one of just seven events globally. New Zealand has an impressive record at that top level, with world no.1 Tim Price recently winning the newest addition to the calendar, the 5* at Maryland, but he has also won Pau (2021), Luhmuhlen (2019 and 2014) and Burghley (2018). Sir Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson have both won nine apiece, with Jonelle a two time winner, Blyth Tait laying claim to three, and Jock Paget, Caroline Powell, Matthew Grayling, Clarke Johnstone and Nick Larkin having won one each.
THE HORSE DETAILS:
Grappa Nera – owned by The Grape Syndicate and Jonelle Price
Greenacres Special Cavalier – owned by Chris Mann
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ