Burghley: “To win is beyond my wildest dreams”

2018 Land Rover Burghley Champion Tim Price (Image: Libby Law)

Tim Price grew up watching his eventing idols on television, and dreamed of one day winning a four-star. Now he’s won two, and having captured the Burghley crown he stands beside the Kiwi legends of the sport.

“To win here has always been a dream since I was watching Andrew Nicholson, Mark Todd and Blyth Tait on television when we were kids,” he says.

“I took inspiration from that, but being here and in this position is not something I’d have predicted. I thought I was just good at breaking in horses and sitting on tricky ones. To be here and win is beyond my wildest dreams.”

Tim and Ringwood Sky Boy: practically perfect (image: Libby Law)
(Image: Libby Law)
The look of love: Jonelle was the first to congratulate her husband; the pair now each have two four-star wins (Image: Libby Law)

Tim and Ringwood Sky Boy had a fence in hand by the time they entered the show jumping area, but didn’t need it, despite the fact that ‘Oz’ is not usually the most reliable in the final phase. “This horse deserves a big day, but he’s the sort of horse that is usually somewhere in the mix… to put it all together in one week has been exceptional,” says Tim.

“I couldn’t be prouder of him and it’s just a super team effort. It means everything to me, it’s Burghley.”

Tim paid tribute to Ringwood Sky Boy’s owner, Verenna Allen (centre) (Image: Libby Law)

Andrew Nicholson laid down the real challenge of the competition, with an impressive third place on four-star debutante Swallow Springs. The pair were just 16th after dressage, with a test Andrew felt was harshly marked, but an exceptional clear round inside the time across the country catapulted the pair into fifth place. A double clear show jumping then shot them up to third — and made them the only pair in the competition to finish on their dressage score.

Andrew Nicholson and Swallow Springs were the only dressage-score finishers (Image: Libby Law)

“I’m very pleased with him; he couldn’t have done any better, and I don’t think I could have done any better, so I’m delighted,” says Andrew. He has always seen a lot of potential in the 11-year-old grey, known at home as ‘Chill’.

“I’m lucky to have some very supportive owners; after my injury [in 2015] they were happy for me to downsize my string a bit. The ones that are left are the ones I think are really special.

“I left home thinking if he can go the way he can, and I do my job properly, then he could have a chance. While I would have loved to win, for Tim to win is great.”

Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class, the defending champions, held on to second place and were best of the Brits despite hitting the first part of the double at fence five. Fellow Brit Sarah Bullimore was fourth with a clear round on Reve Du Rouet, Piggy French dropped from third to fifth on Vanir Kamira, after hitting the gate at fence four, while Harry Meade’s rail and Away Cruising dropped from fourth to sixth.

Oliver Townend hung on for second (Image: Libby Law)

Only eight clear show jumping rounds were produced at Burghley, and two of them came from Tim Price; his lovely effort on Bango saw them finish in 10th place.

Sir Mark Todd completed a rather disappointing weekend for the Kiwi legend with a rail on NZB Campino, for 18th place.

Sir Mark Todd and NZB Campino (Image: Libby Law)

Caroline Powell had two rails with On the Brash for 31st place, while Dan Jocelyn clocked up 22 faults on Dassett Cool Touch, for 32nd.

Ginny Thompson withdrew before the show jumping, deciding that Star Nouveau had done enough with her cross-country effort. “She was not quite herself this morning and in her best interest I decided to withdraw her… I am so thrilled with her. She tried her heart out.”

She says the mare woke up a bit stiff. “It’s nothing major, nothing long term.”

‘Paige’ will now have a little break with the long-term goal to compete at Badminton and Burghley next year. “I feel like we’ve come a long way in five months… with another six months under my belt, we should be able to improve on this year’s performance.”

A hearty congrats from Sir Mark to Tim (Image: Libby Law)