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Price and Nicholson Well in Touch at WEG

Price and Nicholson Well in Touch at WEG

Eventers Jonelle Price and Andrew Nicholson are fourth and fifth respectively after a harrowing day of cross country at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in France.

Unfortunately, it wasn't such a good day for the other Kiwi riders who were either eliminated or retired, meaning the team was out of contention early on.

Veteran Nicholson and newbie Price, who was a late call-up after the withdrawal of Caroline Powell, are both on 52.5 penalty points.

Price's Classic Moet (owned by Trisha Rickards) proved to be a real little star in just her second four star start.

“I haven't had her long and I was just planning to go out and keep asking the questions,” said Price. “She is a small blood horse, who is light on her feet, very courageous and with a big heart.”

Price tried to find new ground to run the petite black mare on, and her only somewhat hairy moment came when she lost a rein and had to take the longer option at the last water jump.

And while Price says she gave up on watching the clock and instead concentrated on riding her horse, the two notched the fastest time of the day.

Probably unsurprisingly, Nicholson was the second fastest.

The bronze medallist from the 2010 World Champs in Kentucky said that while the going was awful, Nereo (owned by Libby Sellar) is a big, very powerful and experienced horse.

“It was quite a slog out there,” he said. “We all like to ride on proper ground, so this is a bit of a shame, but that is outdoor sport.. You just have to grit your teeth and do it.”

Sir Mark Todd and Leonidas II (owned by Peter Cattrell and Di Brunsden) were first out for the Kiwis but parted company at the last water jump near the end of the track.

“It is very disappointing,” he said. “We knew that was a fence we had to respect . . . but he still had plenty of running in him.”

Tim Price and Wesko (owned by Christina Knudsen, Peter Vela, Lucy Sangster and Kate Watchman) were next and looked to be going strong until two from home when his very tired horse was stopped.

“There was just nothing left,” said a very disappointed Price.

Lucy Jackson and Willy Do (owned by Gillian Greenlees and Jackson) was riding the round of her life until they too parted company at the same fence as Todd.

“I am just gutted,” she said. “You can't get away with even the smallest mistake at this level. Willy Do deserved to be in the glory house, and I am so proud of his heroic efforts.”

Jock Paget and Clifton Promise (owned by Frances Stead) had a run out at the fifth fence and retired not long after. The combination will now head to the Land Rover Burghley International Horse Trials next week.

“I was here to represent New Zealand but it was just not my time.”

William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and Chilli Morning lead the field on 50.3, followed by Sandra Auffarth (GER) on Opgun Louvo on 52 and current world, European and Olympic champion Michael Jung on Fischerrocana FST with 52.3, heading into the showjumping tomorrow.

Just 63 of the 90-strong field completed the very challenging Pierre Michelet-designed cross country – 13 were eliminated, 11 retired and the remainder withdrew. Heavy rain earlier in the week made the track very heavy going.

There were more than 50,000 spectators at Haras du Pin for the cross country. It was a colourful array of flags and caps and country colours, and the weather held off until the last runner was home.

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