Three New Zealand combinations line up for the last big CCI4* event on the Northern Hemisphere eventing calendar, Les Etoiles de Pau in France.
Jonelle Price, who currently has a world ranking of nine, starts her little dynamo Faerie Dianimo (owned by Trisha Rickards and Jacky Green) in their first four star start together. They won their last CIC3* outing at Blenheim in September, and Price has high hopes for the very pretty nine-year-old grey mare.
“It’s my first time at Pau,” says Price, who was New Zealand’s best finisher at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games with her fourth placing. “She’s a talented little horse but is only nine so it is a tall order for her, however, she has demonstrated that she definitely has the ability. She’s a tough and gutsy little mare.”
Jock Paget has two on the card in Shady Grey (owned by Lucy Allison, Olivia Berry and Paget) and Kilcoltrim Ambassador (owned by Joe and Alexander Giannamore).
It is the first four star start for the 12-year-old grey gelding Shady Grey, and Paget’s first outing with Kilcoltrim Ambassador, who did Pau with his previous rider Lucy Jackson.
A late withdrawal from the start list is world number two ranked rider Andrew Nicholson and his 11-year-old bay mare Qwanza (owned by Mark and Rosemary Barlow and Nicholson).
“It’s disappointing to finish the season like this, but there is not much point in goint there if the horse is not 100%,” he said. “She’s just not quite fit enough.”
Qwanza has had 12 months off.
“We’ll miss this, write the year off and start afresh next year.”
Equestrian Sports New Zealand high performance director Sarah Harris is looking forward to seeing Price and Faerie Dianimo in their first star, and is confident of a good showing from Paget.
While Pau is the end of the 2014 season, it marks the start of the FEI Classics Series, which encompasses the world’s six CCI4* events – Pau (FRA), the Australian International 3 Day Event (AUS), the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event (USA), the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR), Luhmuhlen (GER) and the Land Rover Burghley International Horse Trials (GBR). Four star events are the highest ranked in the world of eventing.
The series, which was won by Andrew Nicholson in 2013, carries a $US40,000 prize for the winner.
There are 40 entries in the CCI4* at Pau, including combinations from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Ireland and the United States.
Pau starts on Wednesday with the first horse inspection, followed by the dressage, the Pierre Michelet (FRA) designed cross country, and finishes with the showjumping on Sunday. The winner pockets 11,000 Euro.
For more information, head to www.event-pau.com