DEFENDING Badminton Horse Trials champion Jonelle Price has withdrawn her horse Classic Moet from this year’s event on the eve of the competition.

Marlborough-based Price and Classic Moet took victory in the CCI5* class last year but will not compete in 2019 due to the dry conditions.

The event gets under way on Wednesday with the first horse inspection.

Posting on her official website, New Zealander Price said: “Sadly we have made the tough decision to withdraw Classic Moet.

“We have struggled with her feet in this unseasonably dry spring – it’s no secret she likes a bit of rain.

“We were very much looking forward to defending our title, but it’s obviously not meant to be this time around.

“Wishing all the competitors and connections the very best of luck and will be there to cheer you all on.”

Meanwhile, Price’s husband, Tim, showed his form ahead of Badminton with a third-placed finish in the CCI5* Kentucky Three-Day Event at the weekend.

On board Xavier Faer, the Kiwi rounded off the podium at the first of the big events on the Northern Hemisphere season.

He said: “My guy is a bit of a Kinder Surprise – you never know what you will get until you get out there.

“He jumped beautifully. He is a lovely big scopey honest horse and one I really enjoy riding.”

Tim Price will ride both 2018 Burghley Horse Trials winner Ringwood Sky Boy and Bango in the CCI5* class at Badminton this week.

That is one of a number of hopefuls ridden by Wiltshire riders.

Fellow-Marlborough based New Zealander Andrew Nicholson will be on board Swallow Springs, while another Kiwi – Sir Mark Todd, from Badgerstown near Swindon – rides NZB Campino.

Stanton Saint Quintin’s Kitty King, who represented Team GB at the 2016 Rio Olympics, competes on Vendredi Biats.

Chippenham-based duo Georgie Spence and Alicia Hawker ride Halltown Harley and Charles RR respectively.