With two recent four-star winners to choose from, Jonelle Price was in an extraordinary and enviable position leading up to this World Equestrian Games.
But why was the hard-as-nails but relatively unassuming Badminton winner Classic Moet (‘Molly’) chosen over the flamboyant Luhmuhlen winner Faerie Dianimo (‘Maggie’), who was, after all, Jonelle’s Rio mount?
In an exclusive interview, Jonelle reveals it wasn’t her decision to make. “The selectors made the choice for me, it wasn’t my call. But I wasn’t surprised; I thought they would go this way.
“Classic Moet is what she is, she’s what it says on the tin. It’s no surprise that her dressage is a bit of a weakness, it’s limited, but she is incredibly reliable and consistent. We thought with the heat, maybe the speed across country might be influential here.
“Plus, there are a lot less risks with her. Faerie Dianimo is certainly more brilliant, but it comes at a price. She’s quite difficult to get to race day, so to speak, in perfect condition. She’s very stressy and she doesn’t travel particularly well.”
Though many were surprised that the spunky grey mare wasn’t even named as Jonelle’s reserve horse, she explains that after a summer running on hard ground, Faeire Dianimo needed some time off.
“She needed some time after Luhmuhlen, though she’s in work again now. We were thinking about taking her to Pau [the French four star at the end of the season] but we’ve decided to keep her for Badminton or Burghley next year. She could do with better ground; this summer where she’s ended up running the ground has been like concrete.
“I’ve almost protected her a little bit from Badminton and Burghley because she’s so careful, so exuberant, but I really feel now that she’s ready for one of the proper big ones. It almost felt like it might be a bit wasted to take her to Pau, so I think we’ll wait and line her up at one of the big ones.”
Jonelle says that at the age of 13, Faerie Dianimo is absolutely still a contender for more championship appearances, such as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “We learned a lot from Rio. She wasn’t 100% there, which we didn’t know at the time, and that’s probably why she didn’t jump as well as usual on the final day. We hadn’t been able to identify it, but we know what we’re dealing with now and know how to manage her.
“Having two four-star winners to be picking from is a pretty nice position to be in, and who knows what’s coming through as well after them.”
All the best for tomorrow and the rest of WEG Jonelle; she and Classic Moet have been named as anchors, being the fourth and final combination of our Kiwi team. Let us not forget they were fourth and best of the Kiwis at the last WEG, having had the late call up from the reserve bench. Go Kiwis!