Jonelle best of the Kiwis at Pau

Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo  – best of the Kiwi riders after cross-country (Image: Libby Law Photography)

The cross-country course proved a huge challenge for the competitors at Pau, and the leaderboard has significantly changed! French riders hold three out of the top four positions, and Astier Nicolas has emerged as the leader on Molakai, followed by Gwendolen Fer on Romantic Love. Astier was one of only two riders to jump clear within the time, the other one being fourth-placed Cedric Lyard. UK rider, Sarah Bullimore had a good day, having three horses finish the cross-country in the top 10. She sits in third on Reve du Rouet.

Astier Nicolas with Gwendolen Fer and course designer Pierre Michelet during the CCI4* Cross Country Press Conference. (Image: Libby Law Photography)

Jonelle Price is the best-placed New Zealand rider at the event, ninth after a masterful cross-country. Jonelle and Faerie Dianimo added 9.2 time faults to their dressage score and made the jumps look easy – which they certainly are not (as so many others found out).

Caroline Powell is the next best-placed Kiwi, after adding 26.4 time on Up Up and Away, but no jumping faults. She retired On the Brash after having refusals at fence 7B.

Caroline Powell and Up Up And Away (Image: Libby Law Photography)

Sir Mark Todd and Kiltubrid Rhaspody are 27th after a run-out at 7B and time faults, with a score 85.6. The chance of overtaking Michael Jung for the world number one spot has gone now for Sir Mark, as he retired his second ride, NZB Campino, after a run-out at Fence 11B.

Sir Mark Todd and Kiltubrid Rhapsody – one run out for the horse at his first four-star  (Image: Libby Law Photography)

Andrew Nicholson was the other rider in contention for world number one, but his opportunity has also gone, as he had a fall on Jet Set IV and retired Qwanza after striking trouble early in the course. Jet Set had looked really good before tipping Andrew off with a bad jump at fence 25.

Andrew Niccholson and Qwanza through the water in fine form at this point (Image: Libby Law Photography)

Joe Meyer and Clip Clop were also looking really good until fence 20, when Clippy’s bad jump unseated Joe and off he came.

Joe Meyer and  Clip Clop  – going well until disaster towards the end of the course (Image: Libby Law Photography)

Shane Rose had no luck with CP Qualified: the overnight leaders had a fall at fence 11B. Maxime Livio had also been one of the leaders after dressage but elected to retire after a stop early in the course.

Of the 62 starters, 39 finished, with 28 of these recording clear jumping rounds, so it certainly was an influential course.  Unfortunately, it did come at a heavy price for one horse. Cracker Jack, ridden by Boyd Martin (USA) and owned by Lucy Boynton Lie, was humanely put down as the result of a fatal accident. The 14-year-old gelding was pulled up between fences close to the finishing line. Boyd has made a lengthy statement on his website, including saying, “Just as we went into the arena he took a horrible step, almost on false ground. I heard a crack and instantly knew something was wrong. I pulled up and leapt off within a couple of strides. I knew Crackers was in bad shape.”

Crackers was taken to the racetrack hospital and X-rays showed multiple fractures in the pastern, so the decision had to be made. He and Boyd had looked great earlier in the course and all his connections are heartbroken. Cracker Jack finished seventh at this year’s Kentucky four-star event.

Astier Nicolas told journalists at the press conference that his horse performed beautifully. “I’m very proud of him. It’s the first time he’s managed to run in time but it’s only the second day of the competition and it’s anybody’s game as there still is the show jumping tomorrow. There will be no room for error and I hope he’ll be rested. Show jumping is the challenge, as it’s the hardest test for us.”

In the two-star competition, Caroline Powell and Flipper K have moved up to fourth, adding just 2.4 time faults to finish on 44.3. The leader, Karen Donckers on Jalapeño is on 37.2.

Caroline Powell and Flipper K (Image: Libby Law Photography)

Bruce Haskell and Amiro Sky are in 37th place after adding 20 jumping penalties and 11.2 time faults, and Sir Mark and Dusk Till Dawn are 40th with 20 jumping and 20.4 time.

Karin Donckers and Jalapeno lead the two-star competition (Image: Libby Law Photography)