A Happy Boy Indeed: Tim Price is On Top of the World at Boekelo

Tim Price and Happy Boy. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

And just like that, another Boekelo was over — but not without a generous helping of drama right down to the last seconds of the competition.

Just 14 of the 53 starters would deliver clears inside the time on Kris Van Gelder‘s track, and so tightly packed was the leaderboard that a rail — or a clear — would send competitors tumbling down or shooting up the leaderboard. And so when Tim Price delivered the goods — and one of eight FODs in the class — with his 2019 Seven-Year-Old World Champion Happy Boy, he was delighted — but he wasn’t thinking much further than that he’d secured himself second place. When two-phase leader Laura Collett took a late rail with Dacapo, then, it didn’t quite hit him what had happened.

“It’s not sinking in very quick,” laughs Tim, who refers to the ten-year-old as the literal and figurative dark horse of his yard. “I focused so much on jumping a good clean round, and I put the rest to one side — and Laura jumps clear round after clear round in her career on any given horse, and Dacapo is a very good jumper. So I just thought, ‘well, I’m very happy to be on the podium!’ I never thought I’d win it, but he’s a great little horse — he’s the consummate all-rounder for eventing. He’s just really nifty; he comes out and does his best in each phase.”


Tim Price clears the last to an enormous roar from the packed house of spectators. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The win comes just two days after the recent double bronze medallist was announced as the World Number One — followed by his wife, Jonelle, in second.

“It’s unbelievable, isn’t it? I’m such a slow starter in the year; I fumble and muck it up for half the year,” he muses. “It’s a bit like me in the mornings, really — it’s like a stretch into the year. I need until about 1pm to get going! But that was really cool, and I’m so lucky at the moment. I’ve got some nice horses, and there’s so much hard work that goes on behind the scenes. You’re training away for years and years, and I think that’s what’s really on display. It might look from the outside like we just step on and step off week after week, but like this guy, I’ve had him since he was four, and you just chip away and try to make the right decisions along the way and place them well. On days like this, you feel like you’re reaping the benefits of a lot of hard work and planning.”

Tim Price and Happy Boy celebrate a red letter week for the Price clan. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Tim and Jonelle, who came to the UK in the early 2000s with very little to their name but a dream and a heaping helping of tenacity, have pushed through their fair share of tough times and tricky competitions — but self-belief, he says, is the key for young riders hoping to follow in their footsteps.

“Don’t think too much about the work ahead — just keep your head down and carry on quietly, and stay focused on what you want to do in the sport,” he says. “I was talking to a young rider earlier, asking me a question like that, and I think you’ve got to tell the people around you that your ambition is to get to the top. You’re not really trying to sell horses; you’re not really trying to duck and dive — but you might have to to get there. Let it be known, and the more you put that around yourself, the more it can become reality one day.”

One of the most admirable things about the Price family is the diversity of their time: rather than remaining tunnel-visioned on riding at every moment of the day, they make time for the other things that make life great, including family, holidays, and taking the time to explore the many places they travel to while competing. And that, too, is crucial to avoiding burnout, says Tim.

“You’ll get pretty floored after a bad competition, so you’ve got to build yourself up again and again. You just get good at refining the timescale to do that — two or three days and then you get going again. But really, you’ve got to live a healthy life; a fairly well-rounded life. We’re not pure athletes; to be honest, we can live a little with our lifestyles and things, and you’ve got to keep that healthy balance so you can bounce back and get enthusiastic about what’s around the corner. I think that’s what the real key is: that we love it so much that we can let that filter in very quickly.”

Amen to that, Mr. Price.

Tom McEwen takes second — or ‘equal first’ — with new ride JL Dublin. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

“I’m going to call that ‘equal first’,” jokes Tom McEwen, who finished in second place — though on the same score as the winners — with new ride JL Dublin in their first international run together. They lost out on the tiebreak by hundredths of a second after finishing yesterday’s cross-country in 10:06 — a second faster, but a second further from the 10:10 optimum time, than Tim and Happy Boy.

“He was amazing, but obviously I was getting a bit nervous on the time yesterday,” he says. “I had every opportunity, but the horse was epic.”

For Tom, there was the added weight of a different kind of pressure this week. JL Dublin is best known for his partnership with Nicola Wilson, with whom he won last year’s European Championships — among a spate of other major wins — and while Tom is struck by his good fortune at getting to deputise for her after her accident at Badminton this year, he’s eminently conscious that in happier circumstances, there would be another rider in the irons for today’s prizegiving.

“It all comes down to Nic,” he says. “She produced him, and to come here on two intermediate runs and come second — that’s all down to her, and actually, if she’d been on him, he’d have flown around and won quite comfortably. He’s phenomenal, and it’s all thanks to her and all the hard work she’s done for years and years with him. So I can only say thank you: thank you to her, and thank you to her owners for trusting me with such an incredible horse.”

Tom McEwen and JL Dublin. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Before heading out on course yesterday, ordinarily icy-veined Tom was nervous — after all, he’d had very few runs with the horse and only a couple of months to get to know him.

“The first three fences, I was gauging where I was at, because we’ve only done two OIs,” he says. “I was a bit nervous in the morning, but as soon as I set off, I was like, ‘no, we didn’t need to anything more than those’. He was phenomenal. At the tricky combinations he flew; I had to add at the two overs, so I made sure we balanced to the water, but to be honest, we went around in a hand canter, which is why I found getting closer to the time so difficult. He was coming out of the main arena at the end of the course and I was trying to slow him down, but all he wanted to do was carry on galloping. He’s a machine, and he’s world class — there’s not many like him. Even though we came here to do well, at the same time it was very much a learning experience, so to come out like this is fantastic.”

Laura Collett and Dacapo slip to third after a frustrating late rail. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

“If you’d said we’d be third coming here, we’d all have been delighted, but obviously it’s a bit gutting dropping from first to third,” says Laura Collett, whose late rail at the tenth fence with Dacapo cost her the lead she’d held on 21.9 through the first two phases. But the week has still been a victory, in a way, for the mercurial gelding, who tends to either place or push himself right down to the bottom end of the pack with occasional naughty moments across the country. Like stablemate London 52, whose career turning point came after his confidence-boosting win here in 2019, the week has looked to be a very positive one for the 13-year-old gelding, with whom Laura has simply focused on enjoying four-star outings this year in a bid to sustain his focus and push him toward the path of least resistance. In that respect? It’s been mission very much accomplished.

“He’s had a great time and performed brilliantly,” says Laura. “He hasn’t had a wobble all year, and he’s had a bit of a funny prep coming here — he’s run in intermediates, and he’s been to Burghley and done a demo there, and things like that. He obviously just likes to have a bit of change, and the main thing is that he was brilliant on the cross-country. Any horse can have a fence down, and unfortunately, he had one today, but it doesn’t take away from how good he’s been this week.”

World Champion Yasmin Ingham closes the book on a super week with Rehy DJ after a tricky start. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Newly-crowned World Champion Yasmin Ingham had another super week, this time with the sweet, stalwart Rehy DJ, who is also owned by Banzai du Loir’s owners Sue Davies and Janette Chinn. He’s performed in his usual, reliable way despite an unfortunate incident after the first horse inspection, in which a water bowser was turned on as he walked by and he got loose, slipped, and sustained a superficial graze, which resulted in his withdrawal from the British Nations Cup team to allow an extra day of observation. That call paid off, and he’s looked at his best since, climbing from first-phase ninth place after finishing on his dressage score of 28.7.

“It’s gone from not so good to really, really good, so I’m very happy,” says Yasmin. “It wasn’t the best start to the week with our little incident, but his graze has healed up miraculously quickly thanks to the help of [team GB vet] Liz Brown and [groom] Allison and all the team here. He’s had the best of care and attention, and he’s feeling fantastic. He jumped his socks off today, and he really deserved the clear round — he tried so hard.”

‘Piglet’ is becoming something of a Mr Consistency in Yasmin’s string, and so consistency is the watchword in how she prepares him, too.

“We know how he works now, and we know what to do in the warm-up so we can get him feeling his best for the showjumping, so we stuck to our usual routine and he delivered. I’m very proud of him.”

For 25-year-old Yasmin, it’s a slightly surreal feeling to be announced into the ring as the World Champion every time she performs — but she deals with the pressure in her usual, sunny way.

“It’s a little reminder every time like, ‘oh yeah, that happened!’ But then I’m like, ‘don’t tell everyone before I jump, though, because it might go really badly!'” she laughs. “

Liz Halliday-Sharp proves she has an Olympic talent in the excellent Miks Master C. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Though Liz Halliday-Sharp is still getting to know her ride of just five months, Miks Master C — “I’ve tried him in new bits for all three phases for the first time this week,” she laughs — she knew from the word ‘go’ that he was a talent of huge proportions, and he certainly proved that in spades this week. The pair initially sat in sixth place after an expressive test for 26.2, which looked expressive and fluid despite the gelding’s current tendency towards a bit too much power, and dropped down to eighth after that strength meant that Liz added 3.2 time penalties while setting up for the fences. But today, all the pieces came together, and the very fresh US-bred ten-year-old, who she rides for Ocala Horse Properties and Debbie Palmer, produced an easy clear inside the time to take fifth place.

“He’s such a fabulous horse, and we’re still figuring stuff out about him — like, today’s the first day I’ve ever jumped him in that bit in the ring in my life,” says Liz. “He was a bit strong with me in my last run, and I think he fought even harder on the last day, so I couldn’t be happier to jump double clear and finish in the 20s with him in our first long format together after just five months.”

Today was a major test for the gelding, and Liz called in the big guns to help her get the job done in training for the final day.

“I’ve kind of had him piss off with me in the ring before, so I was so thrilled with how he just fought for me the whole way. I’ve had a lot of help from Peter Wylde and Erik Duvander, and that’s been really great. I think we’re on the right path forward with him, and ready to step him up the next level next year.”

While there are still some minor mysteries to solve on the path to greatness, several major points have been confirmed for Liz this week — including that of the horse’s stamina.

“He was so fresh today — he came out like, ‘eh, I didn’t do anything yesterday!’ He was wild this morning — he’s some machine. He had three more minutes in him when I finished yesterday; I just ran out of brakes, which is why we were slow, so I need to reassess that this winter. At the moment, he changes at every show, but it feels like we’re getting closer and closer to figuring each other out — and a great week like this puts me in a good, happy place to get on the road to Maryland 5*, too!”

Ros Canter’s Izilot DHI steps up to the plate at Boekelo. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Coming to Boekelo is a big ask for a horse that’s naturally starstruck and spooky, but Ros Canter‘s Izilot DHI proved that quality wins out, and watching him gain in confidence and boldness through the week has been enormously exciting. He came to the event already a considerable success in his own right, with wins in CCI4*-S classes at Burgham and Bramham under his belt this season, but as a nine-year-old making his CCI4*-L debut, he was still unproven in many ways — and taking the pressure of expectation off was a huge part of Ros’s gameplan for the week.

“We’re over the moon with the way he’s coped,” says Ros. “Just to be here on the final day is a win in itself with Isaac, but he’s proved how much he’s grown up, and it makes it really exciting for next year. I didn’t really have any intentions about where we could be placed or anything like that — I mean, we all know he’s an out-and-out winner on his day, but this was really about trying to give him an experience that he enjoyed and building for his future. He’s had two big wins this year already, and hopefully this will build him up for another four long next year — and then we’ll see where we go after that!”

Ros and Isaac began the week in exceptional style, taking third place after the first phase on a score of 25, but a smattering of time penalties yesterday pushed them to ninth. Their clear inside the time today boosted them back up the order, and they took sixth place in the final standings.

“In the past, he’s been quite a flighty horse; if he’s been spooked or a bit nervous, like he was at Le Lion d’Angers, then he can go quite fast in the wrong direction,” says Ros. “But he was really good on cross-country. He was definitely a bit shell-shocked at first, and he didn’t really gallop towards the crowds for the first half of the course, so we struggled to stay on the minute markers right from the beginning because he was just drawing back a bit. But the thing I was most proud of was how honest he was at the jumps, even when there was so much going on, because that’s historically what he’s struggled with. He learned a lot from it — he’s tired, mentally, because he’s never experienced anything like this. It’s been a big week for him, and he’s ready for his holiday now!”

Boyd Martin and Fedarman B realise a dream for the Annie Goodwin Syndicate. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

No horse in the field has been as roundly cheered on as Boyd Martin‘s Fedarman B, who he rides for the Annie Goodwin Syndicate in honour of the eponymous late rider who produced the talented gelding to the upper levels. Each step of the way, he’s given Annie’s family and friends an enormous amount to celebrate as their horse makes his debut for Team USA: they sat in the top ten after the first day of dressage, and top fifteen after the second on their 29.8, then moved up to tenth after a clear round fifteen seconds inside the time. Today, though, was their star turn, as they delivered an impeccable clear inside the time to claim seventh place.

“We’re building a partnership, and we’re against some very, very good horses here, so to finish in the top group is something to be proud of — and I think that in our next international, we’ll be even stronger,” says Boyd sagely. “He’d be one of the best jumpers I’ve ever sat on; he’s got power, and scope, and bravery, and carefulness, and he’s just amazing quality. I’m very, very honoured and privileged to ride him and to be here in this company, and to finish on his dressage score gives us a lot to be proud of. It’s great having such a nice group around him, and Annie’s parents here, too.”

Boyd Martin and Fedarman B. Photo by Tilly Berendt.


Boyd, who was part of the silver medal-winning team at the World Championships in Pratoni last month, worked closely with Erik Duvander and Peter Wylde this week, alongside his teammates — and while he’s enjoying the afterglow of that historic success, the stalwart team member is always thinking of the marginal gains for his adopted nation.

“I think all the Americans had a great trip, and we’re still just a fraction off the best in the world, but we’re getting closer. We do still have to get a little bit better — I measure myself, personally, against the likes of Tim Price, and he’s part of that group that’s still just a notch better in their riding. I think that part B [of the US rebuilding project] is just getting ahold of the best horses in the world; I think there’s a handful of riders in America that are so close, and if we keep grinding away, I think we’ll get there.”

Susie Berry and the inexperienced, hugely exciting Clever Trick. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

When Ireland’s Susie Berry entered the ten-year-old Clever Trick for this event, it was with one goal in mind: give the inexperienced mare an education in the imitable atmosphere of Boekelo, and don’t worry a jot about the result along the way. But the Irish mare by Financial Reward has only gotten better and better throughout the week, capitalising upon a confident first-phase result of 31.8, which put her 28th, by adding nothing across the country yesterday and just 0.8 time penalties in today’s tough showjumping to take a final eighth place.

“She was kind of an unknown coming in,” says Susie, “but she was class in all three phases, to be honest. She’d be really green on the flat, but she was just as good in the ring as she is at home. She didn’t care about the atmosphere or anything; she just got the job done.”

The pair finished nine seconds inside the optimum time yesterday, making light work of a twisty track that flits through arguably the party of the year around the busy cross-country course.

“I knew she was fast and very good across the country, but it was the other two phases where she’d be pretty green,” says Susie, who took over the ride from fellow Irish rider Alex Donohoe over the winter. “This is actually my first four-star with her — we’ve done an Advanced and a CCI3*-L, but it was all very unknown. I’d hoped she’d perform, but I didn’t expect to be in the top ten, that’s for sure! It just felt like we were singing off the same hymn sheet this week. Going into the jumping I thought she’d be a bit tight, but she was so relaxed, and as long as I stayed relaxed with her, she felt so loose and chilled.”

Sandra Auffarth and the inexperienced but exciting Rosveel add another four-star placing to their 2022 resumé. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

2014 World Champion Sandra Auffarth dropped from sixth to ninth place after tipping a rail with the young Rosveel, but was delighted to add another placing to the Polish-bred talent’s resume after a third-place finish in the German National Championships CCI4*-S at Luhmühlen in June.

“He’s just nine years old, and every four-star he’s done he’s been clear in the cross-country — he’s so honest, and very special, I must say,” she says. “I’ve had him since a six-year-old, and he was always nice across the country, and really doing a good job with the dressage and jumping as well, so he’s really good and an exciting horse for the future.”

Stephane Landois and Chaman Dumontceau. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

France’s young talent shone through this week, with exciting performances across the country yesterday from a number of their riders under 30 — and it was the joint-fastest of the day, Stephane Landois and Chaman Dumontceau, who topped the bill and rounded out the top ten today. Looking no less fresh for his speedy round, which saw the pair finish 18 seconds inside the time, Chaman Dumontceau pinged his way to a one-rail round, moving up one space from eleventh as a result.

“It’s been a very good week – it’s just his second CCI4*-L, and he finished so well,” says Stephane of the ten-year-old gelding, with whom he won Lignières CCI4*-S a year ago. “He’s been very focused, so I’m so happy with him.”

Alyssa Phillips and Oskar finish off their first trip to Europe in fine style. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Alyssa Phillips put a cap on her first experience competing in Europe when she posted one of the few clear rounds in this morning’s first showjumping session, boosting herself and the talented Oskar, previously produced by teammate Liz Halliday-Sharp, from 48th to 44th. The pair, who had been awarded a 20 yesterday for a circle between elements, impressed through the week on their team debut.

Janneke Boonzaaijer took the Dutch national title with her ebullient Bouncer, despite two rails and 3.2 time penalties that put her within a penalty of second-placed Beau Posthumus and Smokie. They finished 37th and 38th, respectively, in the overall leaderboard, while third-placed Adriaan Smeulders, making his return to Boekelo for the first time in two decades, finished 48th with Ekow.

The top ten after an exciting finale at the 2022 Military Boekelo CCI4*-L.

The British are back on top in the 2022 Nations Cup finale. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The British team sealed the deal with a decisive win in the finale of the Nations Cup series, which they’d led from pillar to post with the team of Laura Collett and DacapoRos Canter and Izilot DHISarah Bullimore and Evita AP (20th after three rails), and Kirsty Chabert and Opposition Heraldik Girl (46th). They finished 6.2 penalties ahead of New Zealand, while France took the bronze position.

Germany, who finished fourth overall, took the 2022 series title in a three-way race between themselves, Italy (6th), and reigning champions Sweden (8th). Their team was largely made up of up-and-coming talent helmed by former World Champion Sandra Auffarth with RosveelLibussa Lübbeke and Darcy F (31st), 2019 Young Rider European Champions Emma Brüssau and Dark Desire GS (23rd), and Arne Bergendahl and Luthien 3 (33rd after cross-country but eliminated at the final horse inspection.)

The US, meanwhile, finished in fifth place after a good showing by the team was marred by a frustrating bit of bad luck saw James Alliston and Nemesis spun at the final horse inspection.

And so it ends, and we bid adieu to eventing’s greatest party, pack our passports, and head onwards to Maryland. Go Eventing.

The final team standings in Boekelo’s Nations Cup finale.