Tim Price was still sweating but also still smiling some 15 minutes after his dressage test on Ringwood Sky Boy as he made his way to the waiting media. It’s hot here at Rio!
And overall, he was pretty pleased with the test and felt the score of 47.7 was fair. “I was really happy with it – I was enjoying myself! I knew he was working in a really good place in his mind. Yes, there was a little bit of anticipation in his walk where he was a bit off the bridle and held, and that exposes a little bit of tension, but all in all, I’m really happy!”
It’s not Ringwood Sky Boy’s best mark at four-star – he was awarded 38 at Burghley last year, though Tim cheerfully admits that was a bit of a gift! But as Tim says, three little mistakes (unsettled halts and a slightly late behind flying change) at this level are enough to pull a mark down.
“The not standing still in the halts, well that’s who he is. It’s not his strongest phase. The same aspects bring strengths to the other departments of the job. So that was expected, but the flying change [mistake] was not! He’s been nailing those.”
Tim was dying to get his tailcoat off and a pair of shorts on, and get back out to have another walk of the cross-country course. He describes Pierre Michelet’s track as really strong. “So that’s exciting! It’s going to be difficult against the clock, and it’s tough early on with the double of corners at fence 6. It’s got all the riders talking and being a bit concerned, which is a good thing, as hopefully they will make some silly mistakes.”
The tricky angles at fence 12 hold no fears though; Tim says Ringwood Sky Boy “will dive on through, as he is as honest as the day is long”.
He does, however, describe the question near the end of the track, the big table with a sharp downhill turn to an upright gate, as “a bit weird”.
“It’s something new. I hope that he [Pierre] is right and it will jump well.”
Wife Jonelle was naturally on hand to support her dearly beloved, although she did describe him as a nightmare who trails water all over the bathroom. But in talking about his test, she was all smiles. “It was very good, we were watching a beautiful test, but then you look at the marks and they are lower than you would think. But he made three mistakes, the nervous halts, and one of the changes certainly was not perfect. For that horse’s way of going, it was really lovely, though.
“I would have loved him to score better but he did everything that he could to get the best score with that horse.
“And you still have to do a clear round, that’s what really counts.”
Jonelle was also full of praise for Jock Paget. “He’s unbelievable, he is a true gentleman and a sportsman. The way he has reacted [to having to withdraw] is a testament to the man.”
Catriona Williams is also at the event, and while initially was seated in the full sun position, now has a fabulous view from the shade of the grandstand with a lovely breeze coming through. She thought Tim had done a great job. “Tim is probably just thrilled he is here, and as trailblazer, the first score is important. He probably is a little disappointed [with the score] but it is the next two phases that really count and we know he will give it his all.”