New Zealand’s Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo added only a few cross-country time faults to win the CIC3* for eight and nine-year-olds at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials on Sunday.
Australasian riders filled the top five of the CIC3, and with the cross-country run in reverse order of merit, the competition came to an exciting climax against the clock as the optimum time of 6 minutes 49 seconds proved elusive.
Only three riders achieved it, the best of whom was fellow Kiwi Andrew Nicholson on Sally Egginton’s Cillnabradden Evo, a horse he has taken on this year from Lucy Wiegersma, who rose steadily up the order from 11th to second place, just 0.2 of a penalty behind the winners.
Third-placed Paul Tapner (AUS) was just one second over the optimum on Indian Mill and that cost him second place – he finished only 0.1 penalty behind Andrew.
Jock Paget (NZL) was fourth on Clifton Signature and Sam Griffiths (AUS), the dressage leader, was fifth on Favorit Z after adding seven showjumping penalties and eight across country.
France’s Thomas Carlile was the highest placed European and best of the Blenheim first-timers in sixth on Sirocco du Gers.
The leader after the first two phases, world bronze medallist Tim Lips from the Netherlands, was also paying his first visit to Blenheim. He rode a considered round on Bayro and dropped to seventh place with 15.2 penalties but still declared himself “very happy” with the result.
The main casualty among the higher placed riders after the first two phases was Britain’s Oliver Townend who had an awkward jump over the first brush into the water on Cooley Master Class and glanced off the second two strides later.
But the day belonged to Price, one of the world’s most accomplished cross-country riders who was recently fourth in the World Equestrian Games
Owned by Trisha Rickards and Jacky Green, Faerie Dianimo, is a 16hh grey mare by Keystone Dimaggio.
“I am absolutely delighted,” Price said. “I knew it would come down to the clock again today.
“I’m thrilled for the owners because this is such a prestigious class,” Price said of her win with Faerie Dianimo, who was bred by Rickards.
“She has been in the sport a long time. She bred this mare and these age group classes mean a lot to the owners, especially the owner/breeders. It is quite a prestigious class and fitting this little mare has won it. I think she is a real class act for the future.”
The mare was produced by Jacky Green, and taken on by Price as a six-year-old. It has taken her a few years to work the mare out and harness her attitude into a positive.
“The mare is a feisty little thing, as hot as you like and a right little diva in the yard. It’s taken time to harness her energy into the finished product, but of all my horses she is the most likely to score nines and tens in the dressage. She’s also as careful as a cat jumping and has so much ability and scope.
“She would be the only horse of mine that is capable of scoring nines and tens in the dressage – doing them on command is a slightly different thing,” Price said.
The popular class at Blenheim is often the precursor to great things. Three former winners – NZB Land Vision (Mark Todd, 2010), Oslo (William Fox-Pitt, 2011), and Quimbo (Andrew Nicholson, 2012) – went on to win Badminton, Pau and Kentucky four-stars respectively.