This season seems to be flying by! As it comes to a close, let's reflect on a few of the best and most memorable moments from this year. From shifts in the FEI world rankings to 5* wins, here’s what Livin’ Eventing thinks are the 6 best moments from the 2019 season!
1. Tim Price becoming FEI World No. 1
Tim Price has been on top of his game for a while now (alongside his wife Jonelle Price, of course). The 2018 season brought 'Team Price' great success - the ‘power couple’ won half of the 5 star events in the world. Jonelle won Badminton and Luhmuhlen, while Tim and his long term partner Ringwood Skyboy finally won their well deserved Burghley title. The points kept accumulating for Tim, allowing him to surpass the likes of Ros Canter and Oliver Townend to be crowned FEI world number 1 in June 2019. Tim has been competing for over 15 years at the top level of the sport to achieve such a feat. The most recent change in FEI rankings see Tim move down to 3rd with Oliver Townend back on top, however it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him or Jonelle in that coveted #1 spot sometime soon!
2. Piggy French winning Badminton
Piggy French is a rider that is often seen celebrating the wins and achievements of others, while humbly downplaying her own. Over the last few years she has been getting more attention for her consistency, style, and horsemanship. Chipping away, consistently placing top 10, after top 10. This May at Badminton Horse Trials she was finally given her big 5* win! The atmosphere at Badminton when everybody realized that Oliver Townend’s .4 of a time penalty gave Piggy the lead was a dramatic and thrilling moment in time. Piggy’s smile galloping around the Badminton arena is something to remember for years to come. While most would see that win alone as a major achievement for one season, it just didn't seem to be enough for Piggy. She has gone on to have the most successful season in history based on FEI wins - there's only one thing to say: 2019 has been the #YearofthePig.
3. Mark Todd's retirement at Camphire
Indisputably, Sir Mark Todd is a legend in the sport of Eventing. After a gold medal finish at the FEI Nations Cup at Camphire, alongside Tim & Jonelle Price, Mark couldn’t see a better time to retire. “Victories always seem to come with a bittersweet moment at the same time, so while it’s a good day for us, for team New Zealand, and for our athletes – who rose to the occasion and carried what’s going to be the new format at the Games to victory today – I do want to single out Sir Mark Todd,” said team New Zealand chef d’equipe Graeme Thom during the presentation, as the retirement was being announced. It’s important to note that we won’t see him disappearing completely, while he is focusing more on racing, he will continue to pass his knowledge on to the future generation. Padraig McCarthy got the ride on Mark's crowd favourite Leonidas II, while Jonelle Price will campaign the small but mighty McClaren with Mark’s #supergroom Jess Wilson continuing on as his groom, and part of the Price team!
4. Team USA's Gold medal finish at the Pan American Games
The Pan American Games happen every four years in the year before the Summer Olympic Games for 41 countries in the America’s including Mexico, Brazil, USA & Canada. In 2019, the 'Pan Am' games were important because there were only two spots up for grabs for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo for Eventing. None of the teams participating in the 3 star level Event were qualified for the Olympics yet; and everybody wanted in. USA, Canada and Brazil all had teams at the previous Olympics in Rio, and all of them wanted to continue the trend in Tokyo. It was hard to argue against Team USA as the best shot for the Gold medal. The team consisted of Boyd Martin, Tamie Smith, Doug Payne, and Lynn Symansky. They delivered on the win; taking home the Gold, with Brazil following in Silver giving both nations golden tickets to Tokyo next year.
5. Cathal Daniels Podium Finish at the Europeans
Cathal Daniels is only 23 years old, but has achieved more than a professional Event rider might achieve in their entire career. This has certainly been a good year of sport for Irish-born Cathal Daniels and his team. Heading into this years European Championships in Germany, with an unwavering confidence and a little chestnut mare - many wouldn't have put their bets on Cathal to podium, but he thought otherwise! The last time an Irish Senior European Eventing medal was won at the Europeans was in 1995 by Lucy Thompson. What an achievement to be standing next to Michael Jung & Ingrid Klimke on the podium in Luhmuhlen with a bronze medal at such a young age. On top of the world: Cathal moved into the top 10 in the FEI rankings this month.
6. Pippa Funnell winning another Burghley
Pippa Funnell winning Burghley on MGH Grafton Street was an exciting end to the Summer! Not only did she take her second Burghley victory by 0.1 of a penalty (ahead of her good friend Piggy French), she did it on a horse that nobody expected to win, 16 years after her first win! Funnell was drawn 77th in the starting order, which might not seem special to anybody else but to Pip this was a big deal. Pippa sees the number 7 as being lucky - after she wore it when Primmore’s Pride won here in 2003 as part of her Rolex Grand Slam. 77 is also the number that the character Tilly in her series of children's books always rides in. Anybody involved with the sport knows it‘s filed with blood, sweat and tears, so when a rare moment like this comes around: it reminds us why we do it.