Jonelle Price winner of The Magic Millions British Open in 2019 riding Classic Moet is back to defend her title, we had a chat with her to talk all things Festival:
- Tell us a bit about the wonderful Classic Moet:
Classic Moet, stable name Molly, is a 16.1hh black mare, she is very vibrant and just loves to go fast which suits the terrain of Gatcombe Park. She is 19 years old now and is still competing at the top level.
- What do you like about riding at The Festival?
The Festival is a very special place, it has so much history, even when I was growing up back in New Zealand it was one of the events we had all heard of, an iconic famous venue. You need an athletic horse to cope with the undulating terrain, it is a true cross country test which is a nice variation of the sport as it can sometimes be more about the dressage or the show jumping. I have ridden Molly there before in the British Open in 2015, when we were second to Chris Burton, we just had to come back and go one better!
- What was it like to win the title?
It was a bit of a relief really as she is well known for her pace across country, her speed is her USP and she absolutely loves to tear away from a fence, so on paper it should be her event – it was a golden moment to finally nail it! It is one off the bucket list!
- Why do you think The Festival suits Classic Moet?
The terrain of the cross country at Gatcombe Park really suits her – she is extraordinary, I don’t think I will ever sit on another horse like her. She sees a hill coming and she pins her ears flat back and tears up there like it is her favourite thing in the world to do. She doesn’t give the fences masses of room and she is not the prettiest over a fence, but she is very aerodynamic. She was the fastest time of the day with just 4.0 time penalties moving us up from 8th after the dressage!
- What does it take to tackle Captain Mark Phillips’s cross country course?
Speed and stamina – I loved it on her but it is horses for courses – you have to have the right horse – it is a roller coaster of a ride, and it suits Molly down to the ground.
- What is the atmosphere like?
That is one of the unique things about The Festival, the bowl creates a real vibe around the place. Also being the first weekend in August it is often blazed in sunshine creating a carnival atmosphere – going in reverse order means you don’t have to wait for the result and adds to the excitement too.
- Do you bring your children and family for the weekend?
It is quite local to us, so it is easy, more often than not the sun is shining so we try to bring the family along. As it is a championship event we only take horses that are true contenders and so we have more time to enjoy the shopping, entertainment and all that the show has to offer.
- We see you have brought Classic Moet back to defend her title this year, how are you feeling?
I would love to think she might be able to do it again, she is 19 now so we take it one event at a time. She looks as good as ever right now, so we will see.
Jonelle and Classic Moet sit in 13th after dressage and will go into the show jumping and cross country today, Sunday 7th August when we will see if they can pull off a title defence something that has never been achieved in the Magic Millions British Open before.