All five of Team Price horses flew through the jog on Sunday morning which is a massive credit to the whole team. Even Classic Moet (Molly) at 18 looked stunning and Team vet Christiana Ober was rightly proud of all of her charges.
The 4*S jumped in the morning and there were plenty of rails hitting the ground. The sunshine finally came out for the afternoon session and whilst leader Ollie Townend was down to just one ride after Cooley Masterclass was spun at the early jog Tim and Jonelle were busy with their 5 rides in a class down to just 44 starters.
Grappa Nera (Grape) has been on a steep learning curve all week and just keeps on gaining mileage. She isn’t the easiest to showjumping as her naturally enthusiastic style makes her on a mission and she made two mistakes at (fence 7 and the second last) but she has proved beyond doubt she is a true 5 star horse in the making. She never stopped fighting all week to do the right thing and it is a credit to Jonelle that she has got her there so relatively quickly.
Bango (Uno) struggled with the showjumping as a young horse but has jumped double clear at his last two five star starts at Burghley. It was really unusual for him to take out three rails but to be fair to Uno he is an unusual horse! He made a mistake at fence 4, had the next as well (which was the in of the treble) before jumping well up to the 2nd last which he also had down. Maybe Uno just prefers to jump on grass. I think what is very clear is that like many a true Burghley horse Burghley really is his happy place.
Molly looked a picture of health and she jumped around the track with one of her best ever rounds at 5 star. Whilst we barely drew breath as she tip tapped her way around Badminton to win in 2018 today it looked as though she was never going to touch a rail. She has rocketed up from 46th to 7th through her pure grit and determination. Molly is simply an enigma. I love that mare so much, she was born so ordinary and has turned out to be so extraordinary through her heart and bravery and she lives and breaths for the big ones.
Moving into the business end of things with the top 8 not having a rail between them the two remaining horses needed to be foot perfect. Tim had said that after his round with Uno he knew it was going to be tough to jump a clear ( only 7 horses did actually achieve that feat). Jonelle and Grovine de Reve had jumped some really good rounds on the Sunshine Tour in February and they relied on that experience to post a clear jumping round with some smooth turns, looking every inch the partnership they now are. Reve added just 1 second over time to his cross country score and the same in the showjumping. To finish in 3rd, on the podium at his second start at this level is pretty damn cool and I would say he has very much earnt his place at the top of Jonelle’s potential Tokyo rides.
Xavier Faer (Hugo) has been a reliable show jumper in recent years having conquered his fear of both blue poles and Liverpools which were, for a long time, his nemesis. He jumped a confident and flowing round for Tim which left him on his dressage score for the second time at Kentucky and you cannot ask a horse for more than that. He was sitting just 0.9 of a penalty behind Ollie Townend and he, like Molly, seems to just keep getting better with age! He is 14 now and really at his prime.
He very nearly joined Mere Farm’s elite band of 5 star winners but Ballaghmor Class is a pretty classy act with a Burghley win already under his belt. He jumped clear which left Tim and Jonelle in 2nd, 3rd and 7th. Not too shabby a performance is it when the build up was on the limited side to say the least!
Credit as well to their team mate Jesse Campbell who piloted 5 star debutante Diachello (Danny) into 11th spot with no jumping faults and was bold enough to make the trip over with them. There are huge variables on these overseas trips but as Tim and Jonelle always say, you don’t win prizes for staying safe in this sport.
I would imagine a sherry or two went down in the house tonight and they fly home overnight on Monday. Jonelle will be speeding down the M4 to be with Abel and Otis whilst Tim gets to hang out at Heathrow before flying a roundabout way to Strzegom in Poland where Chio and Vitali will be waiting. The horses fly early Tuesday morning as well and should be back at Mere Farm by the evening….mission completed.