JONELLE Price is looking forward to Badminton Horse Trials this year, having last competed there in 2005 aboard Mazetto, writes NIKKI STRONG.
Price has had mixed experiences of the trials in the past but is hoping to make an impact in the 2014 edition.
She said: “The first year I had a good run there, then it was cancelled and then last year it was a bit of a surprise to be on the wait list with Flintstar, so I’ve had an unlucky run but it will be good to be going back.
“Badminton is the one you watch on television as a child, there’s just something about the history of the place – no others have the permanent stabling, cobbles, the lake, and the real flagstone.”
The Marlborough-based rider will be riding The Deputy, whom she has produced up the levels from Novice. This pair signed off last season with sixth place at Burghley, which gives the Kiwi rider confidence about their chances.
She said: “He completed two four-stars last year at Burghley and Kentucky, so he’s a bit more experienced now and has proven he can be competitive at that level. If all goes to plan we’ll be hoping for a top finish.”
The Deputy started his season with a third place at Isleham but had three poles down at Gatcombe. Price said: “The soft ground at Gatcombe didn’t really suit him, but he’s in good shape and I’m happy with where he is in his preparation.”
The pair tackled Belton’s impressive three-star track with a strong run and have an Advanced entry for Withington as a last tune-up before Badminton.
Jonelle and her husband Tim, who has two entries at Badminton, have about 30 horses at Mere Oak farm but will be looking to add to the younger string.
She revealed: “We’re slightly down on last year in fact, but I have quite a top end bunch with probably about eight running at two-star and above. You need to keep bringing the next generation through so we’ll be looking to add some younger horses.
“The little grey Faerie Dianimo is a nice one for the future. She went very well last season, and came sixth at Blenheim which was a good result as she’s only nine this year. She’s not particularly easy but incredibly talented. I think she could be a real contender, I’m hoping she’ll go to Saumur and potentially Pau.”
In terms of the season ahead, Price has her sights on the World Equestrian Games.
“The World Championships is the big one in Normandy in August,” she said. “I think we’re coming in with a good chance of selection after Burghley so we’re in real contention for a place, but we need to back it up with a good run at Badminton now.”
FULL BADMINTON HORSE TRIALS PREVIEW IN NEXT WEEK'S GAZETTE & HERALD