FAIR HILL — Tim Price and his horse Coup de Coeur Dudevin stepped to the starting line with one simple goal in mind. Clear all the rails and win the second annual Maryland Five Star. The world’s top-ranked rider rose to the occasion.
Price’s perfect run with a time of 80.65 seconds and no jumping faults crowned the New Zealand rider the second annual champion of the Maryland Five Star. Price entered his last ride of the weekend with the stakes set high. The previous three riders, including the United States’ Phillip Dutton and Tamra Smith and Great Britain’s Oliver Townend all had a perfect run, knocking off no rails.
Price finished the event with a score of 28.2 and said he knew it would be a close competition on the final day..
“I knew there would be some flawless rounds at the top of the table. That was what kind of kept me up from falling asleep and woke me up early in the morning,” Price said. “When you get in the ring and you know clearance inside the time is key, you go into performance mode.”
Price said he looked to build up the rhythm with his young horse going into the run. The world No. 1 rider said he aimed to manage his horse’s length of stride, which he observed were long, along with getting through each jump.
“You just try and give them a good ride, it’s the same with all of us, give them good distances, stick to a plan and if you’re going to execute plan B then do it quickly and do it well and I had to do that a couple of times,” Price said. “He really turned himself inside out for me it felt like in a lot of places, and it really impressed me.”
Tamra Smith took home second place and served as the highest scoring American rider in the Five Star. She finished with a time of 79.85 seconds on the final day of competition. Smith’s journey to a second-place finish came as she worked back from multiple torn ligaments in her ankle, alongside her horse Danito, who suffered a broken wither.
“I just wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Smith said. “The first, basically, three months of 2022 was a disaster. To have the fall basically end up the way it has is just really special.”
Oliver Townend rounded out the top three finishers with a third place finish, his second-straight podium finish at the Maryland Five Star. The British rider and his horse As Is finished with a score of 29.9 through the weekend competition.
Townend said he felt a bit of pressure entering the final day of competition.
“He went out a little bit green yesterday and a bit careful and I just thought last night, ‘let’s just hope he’s as careful in the show jumping tomorrow as he is around the cross country course and we’ll be alright,’” Townend said. “To know you’re on such a good jumper, it was down to me to press the right buttons and get the right distances.”
The win for Price marks the second year of Five Star competition at Fair Hill. In a brief remark prior to the Five Star’s awards, County Executive Danielle Hornberger said she looks forward to the event continuing in Cecil County in the coming years.
Some of the best in the world felt similar about the relatively new event in the county. Townend credited cross country course designer Ian Stark in a press conference Saturday for his creation and changes to the course. The back-to-back Maryland Five Star participant said he will be back to the event.
Price echoed Townend’s thoughts on returning to Fair Hill.
“This is a great competition. It feels like it’s a pioneering Five Star, but it’s for very good reason that we want to come here,” Price said. “It already is, but it’s got the makings of something spectacular for the future as well. It will be fun to say that we went to the first few.”
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