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7th May: Andrew Nicholson Takes Badminton
Published: 07 May 2017 - - Author: Newsroom


Andrew Nicholson can finally add the one trophy missing from his cabinet . . . the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

It was a fairy tale finish with a very dramatic ending this morning which saw four Kiwi combinations in the top six.

Nicholson has now won what many call the Wimbledon of eventing, and the highest goal in the sport outside of the Olympic Games. He’s a record-holder at Badminton as the rider with the most completions having never been the victor . . . until today in his 36th completion.

It is a remarkable comeback, after Nicholson suffered what could have been a career-ending neck injury in 2015.

Also on the podium with him today was Tim Price and Xavier Faer in third with 49.2 penalty points, Sir Mark Todd and NZB Campino in fourth on 50.4, and Todd was also sixth with Leonidas II on 58.1. Nicholson was 12th with Qwanza on 67.9, who also won the prize as best mare.

The showjumping was a heart-stopper. As the final riders were put through their paces, rails fell and positions changed, but the Kiwis did brilliantly.

Nicholson and his Spanish-bred chestnut Nereo – a horse not known for his showjumping prowess – picked up a single time fault in a very carefully ridden round, to finish on 41.4 penalty points and put all the pressure in the world on the two German superstars – defending Badminton champ Michael Jung aboard La Biosthetique Sam FBW who came into the showjumping in second place, just a smidgen behind Ingrid Klimke aboard Horseware Hale Bob Old who looked on track to become the first woman in a decade to take the title.

But it wasn’t to be, with Jung adding four faults to finish in second place on 44 penalty points, and Klimke an uncharacteristic 21 to drop well out of contention.

“They’re not machines,” said Nicholson, as he waited on tenterhooks for the final riders to complete their rounds, “but he showed he (Nereo) can do it . . . at 17 years old.”

They were hugely popular winners, with Nicholson and Nereo’s owner Libby (Deborah) Sellar receiving a standing ovation when they came forward to receive the winner’s trophy.

“It is an unbelievable feeling,” said Nicholson. “To have waited so long, to be so near a few times . . . it is pretty hard but you just have to get over it and move on. I am lucky to be in a position to have that dream and come and put it in place.”

He has had Nereo since he was a four-year-old, and the chestnut has always been one of Nicholson’s favourites. It was thanks to him and Avebury that the former number one got back in the saddle after his neck injury.

Third-placed Price is predicting a good season ahead for him and his team.

“Xavier Faer has been a bit spooky and quirky on the way through and the majority of time I have had him, his quirks have got in the way,” he said.

Their preparation had been good for badminton and Price expected him to go well.

“I am very relieved to start the year with a result like this. I feel a bit of a load has been lifted off me. Badminton is the most amazing place to come to. It is a privilege to be here. The way he has gone for me this time has set me up for the rest of the season I believe. There are good things to come and I am very excited about this horse.”

Todd too was “chuffed” with the efforts of both his horses who were clear and inside time in the showjumping.

“They both came out today and have done very well,” he said. “I am delighted. There is nothing quite like Badminton. I would have liked to be a bit nearer the front, but I can’t complain with two horses in the top 10. We are up against some of the best in the world here and if you can be up there with them, it is amazing.”

Dan Jocelyn and Dassett Cool Touch had 12 faults in the showjumping to finish on 97.3 in 29th place.

The final horse inspection wasn’t without drama, with five horses sent to the holding box – two of whom withdrew before being represented – and just 46 combinations cleared to come back. Eleven of those were clear and inside time.

For full results, head to https://www.badminton-horse.co.uk/final-results-2017/

The horse details -

Leonidas II (owned by Peter Cattell, Diane Brunsden and Sir Mark Todd), Qwanza (owned by Mark and Rosemary Barlow and Andrew Nicholson), Dassett Cool Touch (owned by Therese Miller and Dan Jocelyn), Kaapachino (owned by Jesse and Dr Craig Campbell), Bear Necessity V (owned by Ronnie Bartlett and Blyth Tait), NZB Campino (owned by New Zealand Bloodstock and Sir Mark Todd), Xavier Faer (owned by Trisha Rickards, Nigella Hall and Tim Price) and Nereo (owned by Deborah Sellar).

Diana Dobson
ESNZ HP Media Liaison
021 222 0145

Image: Stuff.co.nz

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