Paget wins Burghley, but Nicholson takes season-long Classics prize
11:48am Wednesday 11th September 2013 in Sport
ANDREW NICHOLSON’S defence of his Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials title came up just short – but the Marlborough-based world No.1 still ended up smiling all the way to the bank.
Nicholson, 52, was in pocket to the tune of £174,000 despite finishing behind fellow New Zealander Jock Paget.
Nicholson’s three mounts were all in the prizes. Defending Burghley champion Avebury won £42,000 for second spot, while Nereo earned £32,000 for third and eighth-placed Calico Joe £4,000.
In addition, Nicholson also scooped the HSBC FEI Classics Trophy and a further £96,000.
The Classics rewards the most successful rider across world eventing’s six four-star competitions – Badminton, Kentucky, Luhmuhlen, Burghley, Pau and Adelaide – with Nicholson coming out on top this year by an emphatic margin.
Paget’s triumph aboard Clifton Promise came just four months after he won the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials on the same horse, a feat last achieved by Ginny Leng with Master Craftsman 24 years ago.
And it means that 29-year-old Paget, a one-time apprentice bricklayer and former Nicholson pupil, will land the £225,000 Rolex Grand Slam if he wins at Kentucky next spring.
The Grand Slam is awarded to any rider who captures consecutive Badminton, Burghley and Kentucky crowns, but it has been achieved on just one previous occasion by Britain’s Pippa Funnell in 2003.
Behind Paget and Nicholson in the Burghley top ten were two other New Zealand riders – sixth-placed Jonelle Richards, who is based at Mildenhall, and twice Olympic individual gold medallist Mark Todd, based at Badgerstown near Marlborough, in seventh.
Nicholson paid tribute to Paget and recalled the winner’s time in his yard back in 2009.
“I had to work him hard, but from the day he arrived I could see he had a lot of natural ability and that he wanted to learn,” said Nicholson.
“He has always wanted to learn and he is always looking at ways in which he can improve, but the sad thing now is that he is beating me!”