Two-time Olympic eventer Tim Price has this morning won the CCI5*-L at Les Etoiles de Pau in France, with his wife Jonelle also on the podium in third.
Tim and 12-year-old Falco led from the start, scoring 22.1 penalty points in the dressage, coming home clear and inside time over the Pierre Michelet-designed cross country, and this morning picked up just .4 of a time penalty to secure the win on 22.5 penalty points. It was Falco’s first-ever 5* start.
Jonelle and McClaren added just .8 in time to finish on 29.6 for third. While her final score was tied with runner-up Tom McEwen (GBR) aboard CHF Cooliser, she had a slower cross country time, giving him the nod.
It was a very starry field, including world no.1 Oliver Townend (GBR), Olympians, and numerous other 5* winners.
Tim, who now lays claim to four 5* crowns, was ecstatic with the efforts of what he describes as a “cracking horse”. “For a first time 5* horse, it was exceptional,” he said. The preparation that had gone into the horse before the event was key to his recovery and performance. “We pride ourselves in our horses being very well prepared for these big events and he has certainly had a great run into this.”
He paid tribute to Falco’s owner Sue Benson who had been nothing but committed to the horse and encouraging throughout. “He is a real technician of a horse. Today, he just jumped beautifully so it made my job easy.”
It brought with it a new sensation. “I have had success at this level,” he said, “but to come out on a horse who is new to this level and deliver the way he did is incredible. It was fun and very exciting for the future. I am just revelling in a great result.”
Jonelle said if she had been told at the start of the week she would make the podium with McClaren, she would have been delighted, but couldn’t help ruing the single second that saw her drop to third. “You can’t help it when it is that close! I think he really shone through after the first phase. He is a cheeky horse by nature and I think he is probably going to keep me on my toes but most importantly, he has shown he is a true 5* horse.
The horse had come to her from Sir Mark Todd who got the horse as a nine-year-old and went from novice to World Equestrian Games in just a couple of years. “Sometimes he has needed some time to catch his breath and truly become established at the advanced level.”
She was delighted for his “patient and supportive” owners David and Katharine Thomson. “It has taken me 18 months to deliver a really good result but I am sure it has been worth the wait.”
Unusually for New Zealand, four of the horses competing at Pau were on debut at 5* level, along with riders Madison Crowe and Tayla Mason. Madison and Waitangi Pinterest, New Zealand’s national three day champs, finished in 29th on 70.2 penalty points after scoring 27.4 in the dressage, adding an unfortunate 2- and time in the cross country, and a rail and 0.8 time in the showjumping this morning.
“I have never been more proud of her,” said Madison. “She really showed how classy she is this week and the scoreboard doesn’t reflect how good she has been. I made a mistake yesterday and today she had an unlucky rail that didn’t reflect how great she jumped. I am just so proud.”
London Olympian Caroline Powell steered Up Up and Away to 30th place on a score of 71.2. She too was very pleased with the efforts of the grey gelding. Their journey through the event started with a 30.6 penalty point dressage effort, with penalties in the cross country and this morning a rail and 0.8 time to finish.
“It was very much a roller coaster with Russell (Up Up and Away) this week,” she said. “He is 15 years young and still hasn’t worked out how to make life easy for himself! I am chuffed he completed Pau. He certainly is a character.”
Tayla Mason rode her homebred horse Centennial to 34th in their first-ever crack at the top level. “I am very proud of Centennial,” she said. “Although we didn’t finish on the score I had hoped for, I am impressed with his performance. He is only 10 years old and has a big future ahead.”
She felt both of them had learnt a lot during the week. “I am excited to continue our 5* career together. It was really special doing my first 5* on a horse my mum and I bred and produced.”
Just 35 of the 46 initial starters completed all three tests. Just 11 were clear and inside time over Pierre Michelet-designed cross country course and this morning just five added nothing to their tallies during the showjumping.
ESNZ eventing high performance manager Graeme Thom said it had been a great day for the Kiwis. “It was a fantastic end of the season and the last 5* of the year. There were some excellent results. Sue Benson’s Falco was foot perfect and jumped around as if he hadn’t even gone cross country (yesterday) he was that fresh,” said Graeme. “Tim did a masterful job guiding him around the course.”
He felt Jonelle couldn’t have done a better job with McClaren for their third-placed effort. “It was an excellent result from McClaren to be third at his very first 5*. You can’t be any more elated than this way to finish off a year.”
Graeme felt Madison and Tayla would have gained a huge amount over the competition. “They will realise what the 5* world is all about. They both have the most wonderful attitudes towards what their future is and will take from this and improve.”
He also praised the efforts of Caroline. “She did a great job with her horse and rode a beautiful showjumping round. She is on record as one of our best showjumpers on the team and proved it again today.”
Graeme said had been a fun weekend for the whole team, especially with the owners of both Falco and McClaren at Pau. David Thomson, who owns McClaren with his wife Katharine, had made the trip from California to watch. “It is terrific when you have a great result to have the owners here and able to share in the excitement and exuberance of the whole thing.”
THE HORSE DETAILS
Waitangi Pinterest – owned by The Crowe Family
Centennial – owned by Sue Rutter, and Sonya, Kyle and Tayla Mason
Up Up and Away – owned by Cameron and Mary Crawford, and Caroline Powell
McClaren – owned by Katherine and David Thomson
Falco – owned by Sue Benson, Jackie Oliver and Tim Price
By Diana Dobson, ESNZ HP Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ
November 1, 2021