The rain that had been forecast all week never materialised and another sunny warm day saw huge crowds swarm into the Park for cross country day. As always it was a long old wait until Tim left the start box at 11.30am on a well anchored Bango (Uno) and he tackled the first part of the track with his usual incredible bravery and commitment taking all the direct routes in his stride. With just one OI run under his belt in the last year and no big runs since Kentucky 2021 you might have been forgiven for thinking Uno was a bit short of match practice but not a bar of it!
The screen froze just as Uno started to make his own decisions about striding and as Jonelle said, it was far more relaxing watching a motionless Uno! He got very bold coming home and took a mighty leap into the second water but Tim re balanced him and they came home with 14.4 time to sit in eventual 12th at the end of a long day of competition. It was a valiant effort by Uno and brave ride from Tim and set the bar for the next few horses as he sat in 2nd for a good chunk of the morning.
Jonelle and Classic Moet (Molly) set out quick and stayed quick all the way. They went direct everywhere with Molly showing all her flair and class and throwing in some huge leaps over the big oxers. They never had a single moment and it wasn’t until the Lion Bridge that Molly showed the first signs ever on course that maybe her age was slightly catching up with her. She galloped home gamely though with her ears pricked and quite unbelievably, at 19, was the sole horse in the field to come under under time. What an act she is. Fellow Badminton winner Vanir Kamira stopped the clock one second over to take the lead with Piggy March and the next closet was 3.6 from Tom Jackson for eventual 4th.
Tim and Vitali simply oozed class from the first fence to the last with a fabulous display of a partnership that trusts and believes in one another. Vitali never thinks of anything but going between the flags and Tim piloted him around with the style and accuracy of a truly top class rider. They were third fastest of the day with just 5.2 time.
Jonelle and Molly lie third, Tim and Vitali second. To say it was a great day for Team Price is an understatement! They were both amazing on three very different horses and just 30 completed the track out of 52 starters with plenty of thrills and spills along the way. Some of the inexperienced found themselves out of their depth, a few were very unlucky and World no. 1 Ollie Townend put both of his on the deck in the same day.
Polystar (Nero) didn’t get to start as after a discussion with owner Trisha Rickards Tim decided starting him on a 31 just wasn’t worth the risk with a big old track and his first start at 5 star going to be a tough one. He has had some time out and it was possibly just one ask too many for a 17 year old so he goes home fresh and bright and ready for 2022.
Uno was awesome, Vitali was amazing but Molly was simply the toughest most incredible mare anyone could ask for today. She gave Jonelle her all, yet again, and absolutely loved every single minute. She is the absolute definition of a 5 star heroine and deserves her plaudits tonight.
Tomorrow is another day but as we always say, Burghley is where dreams come true and maybe another one may do so tomorrow. But as for today…. well, that’s the stuff that dreams are made of anyway.