NEW Zealand’s Tim Price won the fourth CCI5* of his career in Pau, France, after a flawless performance aboard the 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding Falco. It was almost a Price one-two, as Tim’s wife Jonelle eventually finished third, with Britain’s double Tokyo medallist Tom McEwen between them in second place with the Irish Sport Horse CHF Cooliser.

There was heartbreak on the final day for Ireland’s Padraig McCarthy who was lying second after cross-country with Fallulah. He was aiming to end Ireland’s 56-year wait for another five-star victory, but a heartbreaking show jumping round where four fences fell meant he dropped to 17th place when second last into the arena.

Cathal Daniels was best of the Irish finishers with Mags and Frank Kinsella’s Irish Sport Horse mare Rioghan Rua (Jack of Diamonds x Flagmount King) in 13th place on 37.3, one place ahead of Joseph Murphy and Calmaro, owned by Claire and Charlie Mayne and Annette O’Callaghan, in 14th (38.3).

Price’s Cardenio 2 gelding looked every inch the jumper when clear on the final day, adding just 0.4 time faults to his dressage score of 22.1 which saw him lead from the start and claim €40,000.

“This is the first year that Falco has actually decided to tow the line! I intended to come to Pau so that he could gain a bit of experience at this level, and we’ve come away with a win,” the England-based world number three commented afterwards. “My horse seemed a little more tired than usual, but he was just fantastic on the show jumping course. Falco is going to get a well-deserved rest now and then we’ll decide on a plan for next year.”

Irish-bred success

McEwen, who won the event in 2019 with Toledo de Kerser, rose from 20th after dressage to lie seventh heading into the show jumping with the Womanizer-sired 11-year-old mare CHF Cooliser who, out of Super Spring, was bred by Ray Carroll in Co Offaly and sold to Galway show jumper Jessica Burke as a three-year-old and thus takes her CHF prefix. Burke produced her under SJI rules in Ireland before she moved to McEwen in 2016.

A foot-perfect clear over the jumps saw him finish second on his dressage score of 29.6, only one of two to do so in the competition.

“It was my mare’s first five-star competition, and you don’t actually know if they have it in them until you’ve completed the event. I’m really happy with my result and I’m hoping to go to the CCI5*-L in Badminton next year,” the Tokyo team gold and individual silver medallist said.

He added that Cooliser is “definitely a chesnut mare, but she has a heart of gold.”

Family affair

Jonelle Price could have been closer to her husband on the podium but for 0.4 time penalties in show jumping with the 14-year-old gelding McClaren (Clarimo x Landjunge), who gave plenty of air over the fences. They finished on the exact same score as McEwen, but he was closer to the optimum cross-country time so took the higher placing.

Jonelle started the competition in second place after dressage (24.4) before adding 4.4 cross-country penalties when 11 seconds over the optimum time with the former Sir Mark Todd ride.

“If someone had told me that I’d be in the top three today, I’d have signed up straight away,” she said after the prize giving.

“I’m very proud of how Falco, Tim’s horse, performed. As much as I don’t like being beaten by my husband you have to hand this one to him – an impressive and thoroughly deserved victory!”

And it was a special moment for Tim and Jonelle as their two children – Otis and Abel – were also onsite to witness the win. Tim joked they were like a “travelling circus, we’ve got so many buggies and bikes and things. But it is so special, to have the whole family here”.

Australia’s Kevin McNab, third after cross-country, dropped off the podium when Scuderia 1918 A Best Friend knocked the very last fence to finish on 30.2 in fourth.

Best of the home nation in fifth and the only other rider to finish on his dressage score was Maxime Livio with Vitorio Du Montet (30.6), ahead of Britain’s Oliver Townend with the Irish Sport Horse Ridire Dorcha. The 13-year-old by Limmerick (x Big Sink Hope), who was bred by Jim Tempany in Sligo, completed on 32.2 after only adding cross-country time penalties to his dressage score.

Townend produced Ridire Dorcha between 2015 and 2017, until he was sold to Australia’s Sophie Adams who rode him up to four-star level until asking the Tokyo team gold medallist to take the ride again and it was an impressive five-star debut for the gelding.

Townend was fourth after cross-country with another Irish-bred, the 17-year-old MHS King Joules (Ghareeb – Gowran Lady, Cavalier Royale) but he did not present the gelding at the second horse inspection, saying that he was “a bit stiff after cross-country. He is not a young gun anymore and owes us nothing so it was the right thing to do.”

After a perfect round bang on the time, Padraig McCarthy: “I’m delighted with my mare who was just brilliant right through to the end. I really didn’t expect to be second this evening.” Fallulah, making her debut at this level, will come on from the experience.

There was plenty of incidents on cross-country and it was an unpleasant day for Britain’s Izzy Taylor who first retired Ringwood Madras, before taking a heavy rotational fall close to home from Fonbherna Lancer who was 10th after dressage. Taylor was taken to hospital but an update later on her social media pages confirmed that both rider and horse were okay. “Although Izzy is a bit battered and bruised after her fall today, we are pleased to report that she is okay, and as is Fonbherna Lancer.”Two others were eliminated, while six retired, including Joseph Murphy with his second mount Goreshill Pearl (Hermes de Reve x Minstrel Bouncer), who ran out early at fence 5a, and the 2020 winner Laura Collett on first-timer Decapo.