New Zealand eventer Tim Price has topped the FEI Eventing World Rankings for the first time, overtaking British rider Ros Canter who last month ended the reign of compatriot Oliver Townend to hold the position for just 31 days.
Price, who has been competing for more than 15 years at the top level of the sport, took part in his first Olympic Games in Rio 2016, where Team New Zealand finished fourth, one fence off the medals.
A sensational year in 2018 established his presence as a prominent athlete, with wins at Burghley CCI4* with Ringwood Sky Boy and Blair Castle CCI3* with Pats Jester. His second FEI World Equestrian Games outing at Tryon 2018 resulted in an eighth-place finish in the individual and seventh in the team standings with Cekatinka JRA.
His third-place finish at the CCI5*-L in Lexington this year with Xavier Faer was a contributing factor to his rise to the top, along with 10th place at Badminton CCI5*-L with Ringwood Sky Boy.
“I have to admit to wanting to achieve this for some time,” he said, following the release of the latest FEI World Eventing Rankings. “It’s gone from a dream, to a driving force, to a reality.
“It feels pretty special that’s for sure, mainly because it’s more a recognition of consistency, rather than just outright winning. I try to bring the best out of every opportunity I have. Not always to win, but always in a way that has my horses wanting to give effort for their own satisfaction and enjoyment. For me, it’s the coming together of all the hard work, a strong focus and great partnership with my equine friends.”
Equestrian Sports NZ eventing high-performance manager Graeme Thom says the whole team is thrilled for Price’s pinnacle achievement. “Tim’s natural ability, unflagging determination, and grace in both victory and defeat has produced a model paladin who New Zealand is understandably very proud of.”
Former world number one Ros Canter has dropped to number four in the rankings. Other big movers in the top 10 are Kristina Cook, up from 33rd to fifth, Australia’s Christopher Burton, from 37th to sixth, and Kiwi Andrew Nicholson, who has jumped from 31st to eighth.
With more CCI5*-L and CCI4*-L competitions coming up in the next few months and the FEI Eventing European Championship in Luhmühlen in Germany in late August more changes in the ranking list can be expected.
Tim Price started out as a showjumper in New Zealand, and competing at the top level in 2002 with a horse called Desamoray, and won the Taupo two-star in 2003 with Vortex. The horse was sold to Sweden to finance Price’s first trip to Britain with Desamoray, and in 2006, Vortex’s new owner sent him back to Price to ride. Price brought Vortex through the grades to 3* level, and after several attempts at the top level he was ranked 20th at Pau CCI4* in France with Vortex in 2008. He was one of three horses Price had long-listed for the Olympics in 2008.
The duo claimed the same spot at Badminton CCI4* the following year. His first CCI4* win came at Luhmühlen in 2014 with Wesko, and the same partnership came second at the CCI4* in Lexington the year after.
Tim is married to Jonelle Price, who is also a world-class eventing rider, having won team bronze at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
They became the first husband and wife to represent New Zealand in eventing at the Olympic Games at Rio 2016. They also became the first married couple from New Zealand to compete at a World Equestrian Games at Normandy in 2014.
Last year, Tim claimed Burghley and Jonelle won both Badminton and Luhmuhlen. It was that Burghley win that marked the start of a points haul that would culminate with Tim’s world No. 1 ranking.