Jonelle Price has announced the retirement of her star mares Classic Moet and Faerie Dianimo. The world no.2 ranked eventer describes it as the end of an era.
“These two mares have been such stalwarts for me over the past 10 years and I am going to miss them dearly,” she says. “I am just so grateful to these two extraordinary mares who have done so much for my career, along with their owner Trisha Rickards.”
The opportunity to ride them both came through Jacky Green who Jonelle says she will always be indebted to. “They quite simply catapulted me onto the world stage. I have such admiration for them. They couldn’t be more chalk and cheese but share an enormous amount of heart, determination and fighting spirit.”
That said, both have given her plenty of grief on a daily basis but she says she wouldn’t have it any other way. To retire both mares sound and looking as good as ever in their final year of competition completed a dream come true for the top rider.
“I know that I will look back at the end of my career and fondly remember the best cross country rounds of my life with Molly (Classic Moet).”
Classic Moet is celebrated as one of the world’s “best cross country horses” ever. She has long been a favourite with crowds everywhere and ESNZ high performance general manager Jock Paget says she will go down in the history books.
“She has a bottomless tank and has repeatedly taken on the biggest and baddest tracks with ease,” he said. “She has been an amazing horse for Jonelle (Price) and her owner with an impressive list of achievements. She will go down in the history books as one of the best cross country horses ever.”
Molly, as she is affectionately known, was bred by Elaine Hepworth, and owned by Trisha Rickards. The British sport horse is by Classic, out of Gamston Bubbles, who is by Bohemond. The mare was produced by Karen Dixon, then Darrell Scaife, Esib Power and Caroline Powell before she found her perfect fit with Jonelle in 2013. It was the start of something special.
They had their first 5* outing at Luhmuhlen in 2014 for a 12th place finish. In 2014 they were part of the New Zealand team to the FEI World Champs in Normandy where they competed as an individual, finishing in fourth place and were the absolute stars of cross country day in horrendous conditions. They picked up just four time penalties on a course that saw 27 combinations retired or eliminated, and earnt the moniker the fastest event horse on the planet.
“She could accelerate away from a fence before her feet had barely touched the ground,” says Jonelle. “Her speed is both unique and unrivaled. To leave the Lion Bridge at Burghley, the toughest endurance test of all, and sprint for home is not normal. She is a freak!”
Molly and Jonelle have had four starts at Badminton, winning in 2018 on a score of 28 penalty points, after adding just 0.4 time to their 27.6 dressage score. It was a first 5* win for both Jonelle and Trisha. “Dreams do come true,” Jonelle said at the time. She was the first female to hoist the prestigious Badminton Trophy since Lucinda Fredericks in 2007. Their win that day made all the more incredible because their cross country effort had moved them from 22nd to first heading into the showjumping. Right on their tail was Oliver Townend (GBR) who was chasing not only Badminton victory but also Rolex Grand Slam honours. Despite nudging nearly every fence on the course, nothing fell and the day belonged to them.
They’ve thrice contested Burghley for a third in 2016, a fifth in 2015 and fourth this year. They’ve also placed seventh in the 5* at Kentucky (2021) and 12th at Luhmuhlen (2014).
This speedy combination have twice donned the silver fern for World Champs – in 2014 at Normandy and 2018 at Tryon.
Molly and Jonelle have jumped clear in every single one of their 12 5* cross country rounds – the longest perfect cross country jumping record at top level. “A record like that is very special and underlines that she really is the queen of cross country.”
It’s been said in Jacky Green’s blog on Team Price’s website that if Molly was a person, she’d come from Swindon – or West Auckland – be a couple of stone overweight, sport several tattoos, wear a too tight leather jacket over skin tight leopard skin pants, have a boyfriend with an IQ of 10 who is a club bouncer, and have four children by four different fathers.
Molly loves to get dirty and wallow in the mud, so it is a battle ‘tarting her up’ for competition, but speed is her drug. Her mission in life is to do everything at warp speed. She became a mum by embryo transfer the same year Jonelle had her son Otis. Molly’s young fillies are now four years old and just beginning their careers.
Faerie Dianimo was bred and is owned by Trisha Rickards. Maggie May, as the 17-year-old grey mare is known at home, is the princess of the yard. She is small, feisty, funny and has more scope than most dream of. Like Marilyn Monroe she is at her best in front of a crowd and despises doing dressage on grass in a 20mx40m arena at a one day with no cameras on her.
“She’s the ultimate pocket rocket,” says Jonelle. “She is pretty and petite but as feisty and competitive as anything else! “She was bred to be a dressage horse – Trisha’s only foray into such a mission – but Maggie May had other ideas from an early age. She was a wild child and sent to Tim Price at four for some ‘therapy’!”
She is out of Faerie Dazzler and by Dimaggio and been with Jonelle her whole international career. Since their first outing in 2011 they’ve built up an impressive CV of results. She was Jonelle’s mount for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, they won Luhmuhlen in 2018, and placed second (2015) and third (2022) there as well, along with a fourth at Pau (2014).
The highlight of their career was completing the podium in the CCI5* at Luhmuhlen this year. “To finish first, second and third from three appearances is very cool. There is no one you’d rather be sat on heading into the showjumping on the last day in a high pressure situation,” says Jonelle. “Her ability to enter that ring and fight for each and every fence is very comforting in high pressure situations. She didn’t always make her life easy but her sheer grit and enormous talent always saw her get out of any pickle.”
Jock Paget says Faerie Dianimo has been a really exciting horse to watch. “She has a massive heart and an engine to match. She and Jonelle are a perfectly matched combination and produced so many great performances,” he said. “She is a horse who is remembered forever by anyone lucky enough to know her.”
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ