New Zealand’s Jonelle Price has taken out the CIC3* for eight-and nine-year-old horses at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials for the second consecutive year, leading all the way on Cloud Dancer II.
Her superb dressage and clear show jumping had given her a cushion of more than 10 time-penalties and she used up 8.8 of them on the eight-year-old Dutch warmblood, a horse she had anticipated might find the time a challenge on this undulating track.
“He’s a very different type to Faerie Dianamo [the 2014 winner] but it’s horses for courses,” Price said. “He’s got so much quality in the dressage and jumping and he’s genuine and brave so I think he’s got a future in the sport.”
Price initially bought Cloud Dancer ll with Jacky Green. They then sold the black gelding – known at home as Marley – to a syndicate of six ladies: Lucy Sangster, Varenna Allen, Mary Bathurst, Sally Johnston, Susanne Hauchen and Jo Preston.
The flying Frenchman Astier Nicolas was one of the nine riders to achieve the optimum time and moved up from fourth place to second on Helen and Paul Fearn’s Spes Addit Or.
Irishman Jonty Evans was overcome with emotion at finishing third on Cooley Rorkes Drift. They just slipped a place from second after show jumping with two time penalties.
“This horse is so good that I’ve had to raise my game. We’re not a big yard, so to have one like him means a lot,” Evans said. “I think he’s going to be competitive. I want to go to Rio!”
The nine-year-old by Courage was bought by Fiona Elliott at the Going for Gold sales at Goresbridge, Ireland. Jonty got the ride through a Good Samaritan act: he had stopped to help Fiona when her lorry broke down on the Fosse Way – “The horse hasn’t left my yard since!”
Ian Wills finished best Brit in fourth place on Hartpury Sky Is The Limit. There were 46 clears from the 53 finishers in this high-profile competition which seeks to talent-spot equine stars of the future.