Cekatinka has been making waves from the very start of her career, winning both the British Eventing Young Horse Championships and the Burghley Young Event Horse Finals as a 4-year-old in 2011. Beautifully produced through the two-star level by Ros Canter, Cekatinka moved on to the Prices’ yard last year. Joanne Pullan’s talented 10-year-old mare had such a good 2017 that she was a shoo-in for the #ERHOTY17 shortlist. Is it possible that the youngest horse on the list could win it? In four international runs this year, Tim and Cekatinka never finished outside of the top six. She capped the season by winning her CCI3* debut in a field of 98 horses at Boekelo. We wouldn’t rule her out.
In their first season, #girlpower duo of Jonelle and ‘Tinka’ logged just one international run. They made it count, winning the Lignières CCI2* on a 39.8 FOD. This season, Jonelle temporarily handed the reins to her husband and fellow Kiwi powerhouse Tim while expecting their first child, Otis. Anyone who watched a Cekatinka test during the Event Rider Masters will have seen the mare strutting her stuff to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle!
Tim and the mare clicked right off the bat. Their 2017 international season began at Bramham, where the mare stepped up to CIC3* level for the first time, adding 6.0 cross country time penalties to her 45.9 dressage score and finished 3rd on 51.9. She next competed in the Event Rider Masters CIC3* section at Barbury Castle, adding 1.6 cross country time penalties in her fastest run of the season and once again delivering a clear show jumping round to place 6th on 48.9. Her reputation was starting to grow and the talk around the emerging mare was getting louder.
Cekatinka dropped her only rail of the 2017 season in the Event Rider Masters CIC3* at Blair Castle, though ESNZ High Performance Manager Graeme Thom heralded her show jumping round as “exemplary,” noting “the time was very difficult to make and they did it with ease.” Cekatinka added an additional 5.2 cross country time penalties to finish 5th at Blair on 53.8 before heading to Holland for her CCI3* debut.
By the time Boekelo came around, it was the end of a long season for the Prices. A tired Tim was ready for the season to end so he could finally get home and be a dad for the first time. Before that though, there was a job to do!
Conditions were tough at Boekelo but the new sand arena helped. A 39.7 in the first phase — her best dressage score since 2015 — placed Cekatinka in 5th place after dressage. Clear rounds were few and far between and lots of experienced horses were running into problems. Tim and Cekatinka had to wait until late in the day and they stormed around in the wind and the rain. Anyone watching the long route at the end (and still just adding 4.0 time penalties) knew this was going to be a horse we would be seeing again and again at the top level. That round was enough to boost them into the lead overnight.
She trotted up beautifully on the final day, and with Tim Lips and Bayro jumping a clear show jumping round to clinch the Dutch National Championships, Cekatinka could not afford a rail and still win. Any faults and Tim Lips would become the first ever Dutch champion of their major international. Almost everyone (Team NZ and Cekatinka fans aside) were waiting for that rail. This was proper championship pressure. She loved it. Never even thought about touching a pole. Clear and inside the time secured the Boekelo win for Tim and Cekatinka on 43.7, her best three-star finishing score to date, plus helped the Kiwi team win the Nations Cup Final.
Tim has made it clear the mare is Jonelle’s and will go back to her for the 2018 season, but we will not soon forget her stellar year as a catch ride for the FEI World #2. Tim summarized her impressive effort in the show jumping: “She was a little tired in the warm-up, which is typical in a three-day, but was starting to show me how much she delivers in the ring in a performance environment. She used the applause from the previous rider to her advantage. She realized it was something to work at, and she really excelled.”
Cektinka has now won three internationals with three different riders. We have three 10-year-olds nominated for #ERHOTY17 but Cekatinka is our youngest as a June baby. She had the third best dressage average (44.4) and third highest show jumping rate (75%) in 2017 of our 12 nominees, plus a 100% clear cross country jumping rate. Tim and Jonelle have described her as “a cruisey mare with no diva tendencies” … Will Cekatinka have your vote? Polls open Christmas week!
Listen to the #ERHOTY17 episode of the Horseware Eventing Podcast to hear how we finalized the list of 12 nominees. Keep checking back to the EquiRatings blog for analysis articles on all 12: fischerRocana FST, Nereo, Arctic Soul, Horseware Hale Bob, Ballaghmor Class, Bulana, Hunter Valley II, Donner, Cekatinka, Calle 44, Ivar Gooden and Foxwood High.