There’s an exciting new addition heading to the Price stable who’s actually no stranger to Team New Zealand. Jonelle will be taking up the ride aboard McClaren who has previously been likened to the mighty Charisma. Sir Mark Todd says it is the perfect fit.

“She’s the perfect fit for McClaren in many ways – not only in stature either,” he says. “It is very fitting that she will now have the ride as originally I tried to sell him to her but pulled out of the deal when I decided to keep him for myself. I am looking forward to seeing this partnership develop as both are super talented and feisty.”

And he paid tribute to McClaren’s “incredibly supportive” owners David and Karie Thomson who are just as excited about the new partnership. “We are sad to lose Toddy as Mac’s master but we are also very grateful that he saw the potential in this little pocket rocket and invited Karie and me to be his owners,” said David. “Mac has been amazing.”

The 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding was bred by Hotze Dirk. He’s by Clarimo, out of Toni 1 who is by Landjunge. He started his international career with Sir Mark in 2017 and quickly made his mark and caught the eye of many. That same year he was on the New Zealand team that won the CCIO3* (CCIO4*-L) FEI Nations Cup final Military Boekelo-Enschede in The Netherlands. In just a matter of months, he had gone from novice to a seventh place individual finish in his first CCI3* (CCI4*-L) competition. At the time, Sir Mark described him as “truly phenomenal” and certainly a “brilliant” horse for the future.

McClaren went on to place second in the CCI3* (CCI4*-L) at Saumur the next year as well as making the New Zealand eventing team for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon where they helped the nation qualify a team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

When Karie and David were told by Sir Mark that he planned to hang up his eventing boots their hearts dropped. “Of course we had a very emotional response, but the first question of business was then who would be his (McClaren’s) new trainer and rider who would continue to develop his potential to support our New Zealand team objectives for Tokyo and beyond?”

David said he had no doubt the very successful Tim and Jonelle Price would be team leaders but they were also very conscious of some “serious” rider talent developing in the ranks. For the Thomsons and Sir Mark, everything centred around what would be best for Mac – to go to an established rider or an up-and-comer?

“Jonelle became the obvious choice because Mac is still relatively fresh to 4* experience,” said David. “Karie, Mark and I are delighted that Jonelle accepted our offer.”

And they were chuffed that Mac’s groom – “the talented and delightful” Jess Wilson – would accompany him to the Price stables. “We believe he will develop his true potential under Jonelle’s tutelage.”

Jonelle is very excited to be taking over the reins. “I have always admired the horse,” she said, “having seen him work and compete, as well as being on teams with Toddy. I am very excited about the future and the opportunity this presents. I am massively grateful to the owners for their major support of Team New Zealand both with McClaren and beyond.”

She is looking forward to a very bright future together and says she will be embracing the opportunity.

ESNZ high performance eventing manager Graeme Thom also thanked David and Karie for their ongoing commitment to Jonelle and the wider team. “It is fantastic news that McClaren will remain in the Kiwi camp,” he said.

By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photo – Supplied