After many close attempts in previous years, Tim Price has finally clinched the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials on Ringwood Sky Boy in a thrilling finish just days ahead of his appearance at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina.
Burghley is widely regarded as the most challenging event in the world, and Price had his work cut out for him against a competitive field of riders, including Andrew Nicholson and Sir Mark Todd, both five-time winners. And while it was likely not top of mind for the Kiwi as he cantered into the deciding show jumping round on Varenna Allen's 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, his Burghley result would be following his wife's astounding 2018 season. Jonelle Price, watching Tim's round eagerly with their son Otis, had claimed both the Luhmuhlen and Badminton titles earlier this spring.
Tim and Ringwood Sky Boy led by only a fraction of a point - meaning no rails could fall without waving farewell to the trophy - and the horse had only jumped one clear show jumping phase out of nine four-star completions. And with FEI World No. 1 Oliver Townend and Burghley veteran Andrew Nicholson hot on his heels (who finished second and third, respectively), the odds were stacked against them.
“This horse deserves a big day, but he’s the sort of horse that is usually somewhere in the mix, with a couple of good weeks here and there, but to put it all together in one week has been exceptional," Tim said. "I couldn’t be prouder of him and it’s just been a super team effort.”
Now, with Tim and Jonelle's Badminton, Luhmuhlen, and Burghley titles between them, they head to the World Equestrian Games as major players for team New Zealand. As the world watched Tim and Jonelle embrace after Tim's win, it was clear that this couple, who moved from New Zealand to the UK in 2005 in order to develop themselves further as riders, aren't just husband and wife. They're fierce competitors, best friends, and champions who are so deserving of their success.
“It’s not sunk in yet. This is an achievement that we all strive for and it’s happened to me, so I’m really overwhelmed,” said Tim.
With two previous Burghley titles in hand, and his 2018 four-star win in Kentucky, the current World No. 1 Oliver Townend finished second on last year's Burghley winner, Ballaghmor Class. Oliver answered his critics following his notable omission from the British team for WEG with another excellent four-star performance.
Townend has now finished first, first, second and second in his last four four-star events. “It’s been a seriously unbelievable year,” said Oliver. “From Burghley last year to now, every four-star we’ve been to, we’ve been first, first, second and second, let’s hope it continues."
Burghley veteran Andrew Nicholson finished third on Swallow Springs after an underwhelming score in the dressage slotted them into 16th at the start of competition. However, they finished the weekend flawlessly - the only pair to finish on their dressage score - to nab third.
And now, of course, all eyes turn to Tryon for the 2018 World Equestrian Games. Will the Prices continue to be the subject of so many inevitable puns ("The Price Is Right", etc.) with another astounding performance? Either way, it's hard not to cheer for this power couple who has worked long and hard to be where they are today.
Go here for more videos from this weekend's competition.
Photos by Peter Nixon.