‘They’re irreplaceable’: five-star event mares retire ‘at the top of their game’

  • World number two eventer Jonelle Price has announced the retirement of the two “phenomenal” five-star mares Classic Moet and Faerie Dianimo.

    Trisha Rickard’s 19-year-old Classic Moet (Molly) and 17-year-old Faerie Dianimo (Maggie) have become household names in eventing, both making team appearances with Jonelle for New Zealand on the world stage – and racking up five-star victories and top placings.

    Jonelle and Classic Moet won Badminton in 2018, and this year completed the event for the fourth time, finishing 11th. They were fourth at Burghley in August, the mare’s third Burghley completion.

    Faerie Dianimo, who Jonelle rode at the 2016 Rio Olympics, was third at Luhmühlen in June, which was her final event.

    Luhmühlen Horse Trials Jonelle Price Faerie Dianimo

    Jonelle pictured on Faerie Dianimo at Luhmühlen Horse Trials 2022

    Jonelle said with the season drawing to a close the time had come to officially call time on the “incredible” mares – and “break the news to Molly that she won’t be going to Badminton”.

    “You never want to go one too many. It was a difficult decision to make, both have come through this year remarkably well. They’re both obviously still at the top of their game, but it’s better to stop one less, than [go] one more,” Jonelle told H&H.

    “They’ve both just been such stalwarts and kept going. For Molly to do both Badminton and Burghley in her 19th year is pretty phenomenal. If you’d told me we were going to do that 12 or 24 months ago I probably wouldn’t have believed you.

    “Of course it’s very sad, but you’ve got to look at all the positives we’re taking away and just remember how lucky we are.”

    Classic Moet, who features in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine spotlight (on sale Thursday 10 November), made her mark on the world stage in 2014 at the World Equestrian Games in Caen, when Jonelle was called up as a reserve individual rider. The pair finished fourth.

    “Winning Badminton has to be the main highlight – it’s something you dream of, but one of the most memorable moments was my cross-country round at Caen in 2014. She was very much a wildcard and unknown at that point, but I think that’s where she really broke onto the world scene and people took note of who she was,” said Jonelle.

    “Her cross-country record speaks for itself, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

    Faerie Dianimo made her five-star debut at Pau (then CCI4*) in 2014, finishing fourth. She was second at Luhmuhlen the following year, and provided Jonelle with her second five-star victory of 2018 when she won Luhmühlen, the month after Jonelle’s Badminton win on Classic Moet.

    “Luhmühlen was Maggie’s happy hunting ground; she’s been there three times and had a one-two-three, which is pretty good going. She wasn’t the easiest, she’s taken a lot of work her whole career because she’s quite hot. She developed melanomas in the later years, which restricted her a little bit, but she’s just such a fighter,” said Jonelle.

    “There was nothing quite like going into the ring on her on a Sunday, you could be in the warm-up feeling like you’re up against it, but you would go into that ring and jump the first fence and you’d think ‘Bloody hell, we’re on!’. She could rise to any challenge, so that was a pretty remarkable feeling for sure.”

    Jonelle said both mares have returned to Trisha and will be used for breeding duties in the future. Maggie, who was bred by Trisha, is by Dimaggio and out of Faerie Dazzler VII, who is also a mother to Tim Price’s five-star ride Xavier Faer.

    “It will be interesting what they can produce. If they’re half as good as their mothers then everyone will be happy,” said Jonelle.

    “Maggie comes from a pretty impressive line of horses from her mother. We just took Faerie Magnifico through to four-star, so it’s been a very good family and hopefully Maggie will carry on that line.”

    Jonelle said it will be different not having those two mares on the circuit next year.

    “They’re irreplaceable. I’m not being derogatory to my present horses or what will come along, but over the past nine years they’ve just been five-star stalwarts for me. They’ve never missed a beat really and that will be very hard to replace for sure,” she said.

    “I will miss them hugely and forever be indebted to them for all that they did for me.”

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