31 Oct 2022

Equestrian Jonelle Price wins five star event in France

8:41 am on 31 October 2022

New Zealand equestrian Jonelle Price has added a third 5-star crown to her trophy cabinet by winning the Les 5 Etoiles de Pau in France.

Badminton and Luhmuehlen winner Jonelle Price

Jonelle Price. Photo: Photosport

The world no.2 ranked rider steered Grappa Nera to victory with a lovely inside time clear round in the showjumping to finish on a score of 31.3 penalty points, with compatriot Caroline Powell and her 5-star debutant Greenacres Special Cavalier fifth on 35.7.

Jonelle and Grappa Nera were 13th after the dressage on 30.1, added just 1.2 time in the cross country to move to second, and nothing this morning. It was only the second 5-star start for the 11-year-old Dutch-bred black mare.

Overnight leader David Doel (GBR) and Gailelo Nieuwmoed had a costly rail which saw them slip to fourth. Karim Florent Laghouag (FRA) and Triton Fontaine were second on 31.5 with Hector Payne (GBR) aboard Dynasty third on 32.5.

The 5-star events are the highest-ranked eventing competitions, with just seven run across the globe.

Caroline and Greenacres Special Cavalier were in eighth after the dressage on a score of 27.7, moved to seventh after adding just time penalties in the cross country and were also all clear this morning for a final score of 35.7. Just three combinations were clear and inside time over the Yann Royant (FRA) designed showjumping course.

"I always thought she was a good mare and would come good in the long run but it hasn't been the most straightforward journey," said Jonelle. "She is not the most relaxed, so dressage is difficult but she has never lacked the talent or ability. She has got that real determined diehard attitude which often comes good at 5* but poses a few issues along the way."

Jonelle was chuffed for the owners - a syndicate of four women who had been hugely patient and also believed in the mare.

The win caps off a wonderful season for Team Price, the golden couple of eventing, with the two topping the world rankings last month, with Tim at no.1 and Jonelle at no. 2, Tim winning the 5* at Maryland just weeks ago and a team bronze at the FEI World Championships in Pratoni, with Tim taking an individual bronze.

Today's win keeps the Pau crown in the family, with husband Tim winning it in 2021 aboard Falco.

"It has been a brilliant end to the season," said Jonelle.

"Up until October things were going well but we had no wins so it is nice to clinch these last couple of wins. Tim set things moving when he won the British Open at Gatcombe and we managed to step it up a level since then."

It's been a while between top wins for the world no.2, whose last 5* wins were in 2018 when she both Badminton and Luhmuhlen aboard Classic Moet and Faerie Dianimo respectively.

Pau has been a happy hunting ground for the Kiwis, with Tim Price winning the 5* there in 2021 and Andrew Nicholson in 2012. Jonelle and McClaren were third at Pau in 2021.

Caroline Powell was rapt with the efforts of her nine-year-old debutant.

"It was a very good result," she said. "She tried her heart out. She loves being in the limelight and thinks everyone is there for her. It is great to have something back at the top level again."