In June, New Zealand’s Tim Price officially took his place as World Number One in the FEI World Eventing Rankings.
In doing so, he joined an elite group of New Zealand riders to top the world rankings. Andrew Nicholson was the country’s last rider to hold the top spot, a position he held for six months in 2012, all of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014. Sir Mark Todd and Blyth Tait have also both held the honour during their illustrious careers.
Yet for Price, becoming World Number One was a long-time in the making.
“I have to admit to wanting to achieve this for some time,” he said. “It’s gone from a dream, to a driving force, to a reality. It is a great marker point for my career . . . long may it continue! I want to build and develop some more successes in the next few months to strengthen that reign.”
Price feels the top tag is more a recognition of consistency rather than outright winning.
“I try to bring the best out of every opportunity I have. Not always to win, but always in a way that has my horses wanting to give effort for their own satisfaction and enjoyment as well as mine. For me, it is the coming together of all the hard work, a strong focus and great partnership with my equine friends.”
Equestrian Sport New Zealand’s Eventing High Performance Manager Graeme Thom said the whole team is thrilled for Tim’s pinnacle achievement: “Tim’s natural ability, unflagging determination and grace in both victory and defeat has produced a model paladin who New Zealand is understandably very proud of.”
Price grew up on a farm in Oxford, North Canterbury, in the South Island of New Zealand. Surrounded by horses from an early age, it seemed natural that Tim would follow a career into horses. He show jumped to World Cup level before deciding that as the majority of the horses he was working with were New Zealand Thoroughbreds they were naturally more suited to eventing.
He started competing at the top level in 2002 with a horse called Desamoray. The pair finished 9that Adelaide CCI4* in 2002 and they were 43rdat Burghley the following year and the completing Badminton in 2004. The following year, with Jonelle, they re-locate permanently to the UK, finding and setting up camp at Mere Farm in Wiltshire – a little slice of New Zealand in the heart of England.
With the New Zealand thoroughbred Vortex, Tim won the CCI2* at the National Championships in New Zealand. The pair went on to compete at four-star level – finishing 20that Pau in 2008 and 2009 and 20that Badminton in 2008.
His first CCI4* win came at Luhmühlen (GER) in 2014 with Wesko, and the same partnership came second at the CCI4* in Lexington the year after. Along with Jonelle, the couple made history when they because the first husband and wife to represent New Zealand in Eventing at the Olympic Games when they participated together at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. They also became the first married couple from New Zealand to compete at a World Equestrian Games (WEG) when they rode at the 2014 WEG in Normandy (FRA).
But it was Price’s Burghley win in 2018 that marked the start of a points haul that would culminate with his world number one ranking. After his Burghley win, Price heaped praise on his partner saying: “Sky Boy deserves a good day – so often we nail two out of the three phases, so to finally pull them all together in a major competition is fantastic. This win means everything and I’m super proud of my horse.” He went on to finish eighth at the World Equestrian Games with Cekatinka.
And 2019 has already resulted in a third place at Kentucky CCI5*-L with Xavier Faer and 10thplaced at Badminton with Ringwood Sky Boy. He then went on to win Luhmuhlen CCI5*-L with Ascona M, taking the title Jonelle won 12 months previously. He followed that up with a win in the Event Rider Masters at Arville with Wesko with the pair finishing fourth at Aachen last weekend. He’ll be one to watch at the forthcoming Magic Millions Festival of Eventing where he’ll contest the Magic Millions British Open Championship with Xavier Faer.
Tim now has the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games firmly in his sights where he hopes to add another pinnacle achievement to his trophy cabinet.