Jonelle Price has become the first New Zealand woman to win the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, and the first female winner of the trophy in 11 years, taking out the prestigious event on her wonderful mare Classic Moet.
Only five other combinations jumped clear; the show jumping course was tough. Jonelle and Tim have for the last three years taken their team to a show jumping circuit in Spain in early spring, and ‘Molly’ was part of that trip this year – it certainly paid off!
Watching her round wasn’t easy on her many supporters, with Molly tapping most of the fences in Charisma-fashion, but luck was on her side and the crowd went wild when she came through the finish flags. She added just 0.4 penalties to her dressage score, being a second over the cross-country optimum time, and so moved from being 22nd after dressage to claim her first four-star win.
Molly hasn’t had the best show jumping record out there, and has an unusual style, but when it counted she delivered, adding her name to trophy where there are many wonderful Kiwis names who have gone before her. According to Equiratings, in the last 10 years, New Zealanders have won the competition four times – two more than any other nation.
Molly is owned by Jonelle and Trisha Rickard, who has been a great supporter of the Prices for many years. The feisty little black mare has recently produced a foal through the embryo transplant process.
“Being a CCI4* winner is an elite club to join and it’s been something that has eluded me for a while now, so to now join it – especially here at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials – is very, very special,” says Jonelle, who has had few competitions at the top level in the last 18 months, having taken time out to have her son, Otis, less than 10 months ago.
Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class, who had been lying second overnight after leading the dressage, had two rails to drop to fifth. He had earlier produced a clear round on Cooley SRS, and after Ros Canter had an unusual rail (for her) on Allstar B, Ollie rose to second on Cooley SRS.
“If you’d have told me I’d have two horses in the top five at the end of this week I’d be very, very happy,” said Oliver. “I’ve had to fight harder than I’ve fought before and it didn’t always look like I wanted it to look, but both horses have come out of it feeling very good.” He didn’t make any further friends with his comments to BBC’s Clare Balding earlier: “I can win pretty and I can win ugly. Sometimes you have to hustle the horse to get home.”
Many fans will feel that Jonelle did the sport a great favour by beating him this weekend, stopping his chances of winning the Grand Slam. Jonelle now starts on her own journey to win the £350,000 purse, and will have to win at Burghley and then Kentucky to seal the deal.
Sir Mark Todd lowered one rail on Kiltubrid Rhapsody to wind up in sixth. The pair jumped beautifully for the rest of the course.
Defending champion Nereo was withdrawn at the final horse inspection after being sent to the hold box. Andrew Nicholson then announced his retirement and took the opportunity before the final show jumping to lead his champion around the arena to say goodbye to his fans. What an amazing career that horse has had. Thank you Nereo, you have given us so many thrills!
Other Kiwi results included Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy in 12th place, Sir Mark 14th on Leonidas II, Caroline Powell finished 29th and 31st on her two horses On the Brash and Up Up and Away, Dan Jocelyn and Dasset Cool Touch was 37th, and Ginny Thompson and Star Nouveau was 40th at their first Badminton.
Since 2000, the female winners have been Brits Mary King and Pippa Funnell (three times), and Australia’s Lucinda Fredericks.
First timers’ finishing places:
Padraig McCarthy (IRL) & Mr Chunky, 3 penalties ~ 8th
Carlos Diaz Fernandez, Junco CP, 26 penalties ~ 32nd
Virginia Thompson & Star Nouveau, 22 penalties ~ 40th
Kate Honey & Fernhill Now Or Never, 25 penalties ~ 42nd
Will Furlong & Collien P2, 15 penalties ~ 43rd
Ashley Edmond & Triple Chance, 22 penalties ~ 44th
Imogen Gloag & Brendonhill Doublet, 14 penalties ~ 47th
Kirsty Short & Cossan Lad, 9 penalties ~ 48th
Alicia Hawker & Charles RR, 12 penalties – 49th
Georgie Strang & Cooley Earl, 7 penalties ~ 50th
Alan Nolan & Bronze Flight, 32 penalties ~ 52nd
Armada Dishes: (given for riders who with five completions)
Sarah Bullimore, Tina Cook, Dan Jocelyn (NZL), Austin O’Connor (IRL), Tim Price (NZL), Beanie Sturgis, Jean Teulere (FRA), Oliver Townend.
The William Miflin Memorial Trophy ~ To the rider of the horse with no cross-country jumping penalties and closest optimum time: Jonelle Price on Classic Moet
Stud Voucher £500 ~ owner of the highest placed British owned mare: Trisha Rickards & Jonelle Price for Classic Moet
Mark Holliday Memorial Trophy ~ Groom of winner: Holly Fitzgerald, groom of Jonelle Price’s Classic Moet
Embryo Transfer ~ to the highest placed British bred or domiciled mare to be in the top 20%, courtesy of Tomlinson Equine: Classic Moet
Breeder of the winner ~ Elaine Hepworth for Classic Moet
David Beaufort Memorial Trophy ~ to the person who has contributed to the running of the Horse Trials over many years: Alan Willis
Butler Bowl ~ for the best British rider: Oliver Townend
Laurence Rook Trophy ~ best British rider not previously completed Badminton: Tom Crisp & Coolys Luxury
Worshipful Company of Saddlers saddle ~ Rider with the best score who is under 25 on 1/1/19 and who has not previously won a Company saddle in the calendar year: Will Furlong on Collien P
Silver Jubilee Plate ~ best Owner/Rider: James Sommerville & Talent
Glentrool Trophy ~ Horse & Rider who have made greatest improvement on their dressage placing: Imogen Murray & Ivar Gooden
Frank Weldon Memorial Trophy ~ Rider of youngest British owned and ridden horse in top 12: Oliver Townend for the 11-year-old Cooley SRS
Cotswold Life Trophy ~ Local rider’s trophy: Tom McEwan & Toledo de Kerser
Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain ~ Owner of the best horse sired by a SHB (GB) Graded Stallion or Premium Stallion, provided it is in top 12: Angela Hislop and Oliver Townend for Cooley SRS
Retraining of Racehorses £1000 ~ The highest placed former racehorse which must have been raced under the rules of a recognised racing authority worldwide: Arctic Soul
Farriers Prize ~ plaque to the owner and farrier of the best shod horse: Arctic Soul & The Soul Syndictae, farrier Jimmy Cooper from East Sussex