For Jonelle Price, one half of New Zealand equestrian’s first couple, when it comes to competition all is fair in love and war writes Tum Balogun.
The 2012 Olympic bronze medallist will go head-to-head against husband Tim in next month’s Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials which returns from a two-year Covid-enforced hiatus.
In a sport which provides near complete gender parity, the pair have become accustomed to saddling up against one another and made history in 2014 by becoming their nation's first married couple to compete in the World Equestrian Games.
Price, aboard long-time steed Classic Moet, is looking forward to once again doing battle with her spouse with no appetite for pleasantries on the Lincolnshire course.
“He's got three horses entered,” Price said of her husband, who claimed the Burghley title in 2018 with Ringwood Sky Boy.
“So he's got three chances but that’s not to say I can’t beat him.
“At the end of the day, we are fiercely competitive but if we're not going to win, then we'd be delighted to see the other do so.
“It’s all fair in love and war come competition time, for sure.”
The Kiwi couple, now based in Marlborough, Wiltshire, are among the riders gearing up for the return of the most prestigious eventing competition on the calendar.
Land Rover’s 5* event, set on the grounds of Burghley House in Stamford, is seen by many as the pinnacle of a rider’s career, owing to its challenging terrain and storied history.
Price can call upon her six previous appearances for inspiration, the last two - finishes of fifth and third respectively - achieved with her 19-year-old mare.
Moet’s recent British open run out as well as her unique special skill set, which Price believes qualifies the steed to bear the tag of ‘Burghley specialist', has encouraged the 41-year-old.
And she is hopeful this distinct combination can see the pair continue their ascending trajectory at the event.
“Burghley is like the holy grail of 5*s in my opinion,” Price added, speaking ahead of the event that is back for the first time in two years - due to the Covid-19 pandemic - better than ever, with renewed impetus, a top class field and additional activities on offer.
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“It's the biggest, the terrain is the most taxing and it's the biggest endurance test.
“I've had this specialist sat at home really feeling the effects of no Burghley and getting older each year.
“Her first time she was fifth, her second visit she was third and I always joke that I was going to go back and win the next year if I kept going on that trend.
“But we just haven't had an opportunity to, so it is a big deal for me.”
When not navigating the gruelling equestrian calendar, Price runs a Mere-based farm with husband Tim and has done so since their emigration to the UK in 2005.
First inspired to take up the sport after watching the New Zealand ‘dream team’ of the 1980s, boasting the likes of Andrew Nicholson and Mark Todd, Price had the fortune of accompanying her sporting idols to Olympic bronze in London.
Now with a total of three games under her belt and 2018 victories at 5* Badminton and Luhmulen Horse Trials, the former with Moet, Price is overjoyed to be living out her childhood aspirations.
“They were ruling the world and I was a small child watching them on TV at the Olympics and World Championships," Price said on emulating her childhood heroes.
“I always dreamed of doing what they did and now here we are years later doing just that.”
Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (1-4 September 2022) returns after a two-year hiatus, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A major international sporting and social event for over 50 years it attracts 80 of the world’s top equestrians and over 170,000 visitors. For more information visit www.burghley-horse.co.uk