Jonelle Price became the first female winner of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in over a decade when she sealed victory in the final showjumping phase with an immaculate showjumping clear on Classic Moet at the weekend.
The New Zealander and Trisha Rickard’s feisty little black mare have been the epitome of cool all week and they won the title in the traditional way, climbing up the leaderboard from 22nd after dressage with two faultless, fast jumping performances.
Just five of the 53 combinations in the showjumping were clear and inside time.
“Being a CCI4* winner is an elite club to join and it’s been something that has eluded me for a while now, so to now join it – especially here – is very, very special,” said Price, for whom this was a remarkable comeback having given birth to her son, Otis, less than 10 months ago.
“I certainly had lady luck on my side today,” Price said, “but sometimes you need a little luck.”
She needed it, as Classic Moet, 14, nudged nearly every fence in the round and certainly had a life when a rail bounced back into the cups.
The two-time Price admitted she had begun to wonder if she was ever going to lay claim to a 4*. “I am so pleased. Sometimes these horses go through their career without a big win.”
Price and Classic Moet were third at Burghley in 2016 and the best of the Kiwis at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in France with their fourth placing.
Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class, lying second overnight, lowered two rails to drop to fifth, but the Yorkshireman already had a clear round in the bag with his other top-five contender, Cooley SRS, who had gone out of order earlier on, and this proved good enough to ensure he kept second spot anyway.
“If you’d have told me I’d have two horses in the top five at the end of this week I’d be very, very happy,” Townend said. “I’ve had to fight harder than I’ve fought before and it didn’t always look like I wanted it to look, but both horses have come out of it feeling very good.”
Townend said he found the conditions tough at Badminton. “I’m living in a dream world, I’m from a very normal situation so to have four top horses at four star is incredible. I absolutely loved Kentucky, I’ve found this week tough, I’m still living in dream world from winning Kentucky last week. I’ve been lucky enough to be in Jonelle’s seat and I know how special it is – I’m over the moon for both of these horses.”
Ros Canter, who has once again proved her star quality this week, lowered one rail on Allstar B to finish the competition in the same place she had occupied for most of the week – third.
“I was a bit nervous going into the showjumping today because he felt quieter than usual in the warm-up and that rattled me,” she said. “But our round got better and better as we went on.”
“I think it hasn’t quite sunk in yet, I’m a doubter and can be quite nervous so I have just tried to take every day as it comes and only when I came out of the prize giving did I realise what I’ve achieved and what I could achieve,” Canter said.
“He’ll have a little bit of a break and World Equestrian Games or not he’ll aim for another big one this year. We’ve got a long drive so it’ll be fairly normal night tonight but we’ll probably get everyone together at some point!”
Gemma Tattersall and Arctic Soul produced another double jumping clear – their third in a row at Badminton – to finish fourth, while the oldest rider in the field, Mark Todd, 62, lowered one rail on Kiltubrid Rhapsody to wind up in sixth.
The unluckiest competitor was undoubtedly Tom Jackson. Waltham Fiddlers Find slightly misjudged fence two, stumbled on landing and shot Jackson over his shoulder. A fall means automatic elimination, so Jackson will not achieve a completion this year.
Irish Sport Horses filled four of the top six places including runner-up Cooley SRS (ISH), bred in Wexford by John Fitzhenry. And Tipperary’s Padraig McCarthy equaled Ireland best finish of the last decade at Badminton, taking eighth place overall following the final showjumping phase – the same result achieved by Aoife Clark in 2013 and 2015.
Joseph Murphy was the next best of the Irish in 13th with Sportsfield Othello (ISH) (49.3), Ciaran Glynn and November Night (ISH)(TIH) finished 25th, while Alan Nolan with Bronze Flight came home in 52nd.
Additional prizes at Badminton:
Butler Bowl ~ for the best British rider: Oliver Townend
Laurence Rook Trophy ~ best British rider not previously completed Badminton: Tom Crisp & Cooleys Luxury
Worshipful Company of Saddlers saddle ~ Rider with the best score who is under 25 on 1/1/19 and who has not previously won a Company saddle in the calendar year: Will Furlong on Collien P
Silver Jubilee Plate ~ best Owner/Rider: James Sommerville & Talent
Glentrool Trophy ~ Horse & Rider who have made greatest improvement on their dressage placing: Imogen Murray & Ivar Gooden
Frank Weldon Memorial Trophy ~ Rider of youngest British owned and ridden horse in top 12: Oliver Townend for the 11-year-old Cooley SRS
Cotswold Life Trophy ~ Local rider’s trophy: Tom McEwan & Toledo de Kerser
The William Miflin Memorial Trophy ~ To the rider of the horse with no cross-country jumping penalties and closest optimum time: Jonelle Price on Classic Moet
Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain ~ Owner of the best horse sired by a SHB (GB) Graded Stallion or Premium Stallion, provided it is in top 12: Angela Hislop and Oliver Townend for Cooley SRS
Retraining of Racehorses £1000 ~ The highest placed former racehorse which must have been raced under the rules of a recognised racing authority worldwide: Arctic Soul
Farriers Prize ~ plaque to the owner and farrier of the best shod horse: Arctic Soul & The Soul Syndicate, farrier Jimmy Cooper from East Sussex
Stud Voucher £500 ~ owner of the highest placed British owned mare: Trisha Rickards & Jonelle Price for Classic Moet
Mark Holliday Memorial Trophy ~ Groom of winner: Holly Fitzgerald, groom of Jonelle Price’s Classic Moet
David Beaufort Memorial Trophy ~ to the person who has contributed to the running of the Horse Trials over many years: Alan Willis
The British Horse Foundation £1000 ~ to the Breeder of the highest placed British Bred horse, provided it finishes in the top 12 places
Embryo Transfer ~ to the highest placed British bred or domiciled mare to be in the top 20%, courtesy of Tomlinson Equine: Classic Moet
Breeder of the winner ~ Elaine Hepworth for Classic Moet
Armada Dishes (for 5 completions): Sarah Bullimore, Tina Cook, Dan Jocelyn (NZL), Austin O’Connor (IRL), Tim Price (NZL), Beanie Sturgis, Jean Teulere (FRA), Oliver Townend.
An additional Armada Dish was also presented to Willa Harford, mainstay of the Badminton Office for many years, who retired last autumn.