Tim Price in contention for Burghley triumph after sensational cross-country run

·3-min read
Tim Price in contention for Burghley triumph after sensational cross-country run

By Tom Masters at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials

Tim Price gave himself every chance of a second Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials triumph after a sensational cross-country run.

Price, 43, finished the cross-country run in 11 minutes and 33 seconds, 13 seconds over the optimum time set by new course designer Derek di Grazia – a target that only Price’s wife Jonelle met on a tough day for the riders.

The Marlborough-based equestrian started the day in second after a sensational dressage score of 21.3 on Vitali, and with a sublime cross-country run also in the bank, he sits just three and a half points behind leader Piggy March.

And Price could barely believe how well his horse went round the challenging Lincolnshire course.

He said: “He’s chalk and cheese from my first horse - he’s inexperienced, little, and he’s never been around a course like this before.

“I gave him a bit of time at the start of the course, which I like to do especially with an experienced horse to let them settle into the course.

“Hopefully he can find a nice rhythm and clear the fences nicely and then we really ask him to push home, and I was surprised by how he dealt with the size and the difficulty of the fences in the first half, and then again, I was pleasantly surprised with how he dealt with the second half of the course.

“We finished a few seconds over, but we would have been 25+ seconds over had he not caught up in the back half, so credit to him and I’m really excited for him.”

Price’s wife Jonelle sits third in the standings, 5.8 points behind her husband after her faultless run on an otherwise tough day for the riders – with 21 of the 52 horses on the startlist today failing to navigate the course, including Price’s third horse Polystar I, who he withdrew at the start of the day.

And the New Zealand born rider was clearly extremely proud of her other half.

He added: “I didn’t really speak to her as she was busy, and also her and Molly are an exception to every rule, so there’s not a lot you can learn, other than they’re incredible.

“But no she did a masterclass didn’t she, and her watch stopped working too apparently!”

Vitali was the horse that Price took to the Tokyo Olympic Games last summer, and you could see that there was clearly an excellent relationship between the two, while Price admitted that he has been in excellent form.

“Look, we don’t come here to muck about, he’s been well prepared for it and he’s in very good form, but of course you don’t know until you know at Burghley

“So there are always those nerves and I think we try and chuck a leaf over the top of that and try to perform well and I’m so pleased.”

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