Kiwi ace Nicholson lands one-two at Barbury
MARLBOROUGH-BASED New Zealander Andrew Nicholson secured his superstar status at the weekend by taking the top two places at the Barbury International Horse Trials.
Nicholson dominated the CCI3* class at the event sponsored by Cirencester-based St James’s Place Wealth Management – with Avebury (first with 41.6) and Quimbo (second with 49.8).
Nicholson is set to be a key member of the New Zealand team as he bids for his seventh Olympics His pathway to victory was made easier, however, after an Antipodean scoreboard reshuffle.
Fellow countryman Mark Todd and NZB Campino were eliminated for missing fence 21 on the cross country when lying third post-dressage, while another team-mate Jonathan Paget, lying in second place overnight, was forced to retire after a fall cross country. Both horse and rider emerged unscathed.
Nicholson, who rested his top horse and was riding his second and third choice mounts, Avebury and Quimbo, avoided the drama and performed two faultless cross country rounds to take the top two placings on home turf – his yard at Lockeridge is just few miles from the Barbury course.
“I'm thrilled to win here,” said Nicholson. “Barbury is a fantastic track and it’s my local competition.
“In the build-up to the Olympics there is a lot of pressure because this is a key event, so it’s great to put a strong performance in now".
British rider Lucy Wiegersma followed Nicholson home in third place on Simon Porloe.
A record number of spectators flocked to watch the Olympic team members compete at their last competition before the Games next month and the Team GB riders did not disappoint.
There were good rounds by Mary King and Tina Cook on their Olympic rides Imperial Cavalier and Miners Frolic.
And Zara Phillips, William Fox-Pitt and Piggy French all completed clear rounds in the cross country in the two-star competition on Saturday in the event won by local Stanton St Quintin rider Kitty King.
Kitty and Persimmon maintained their lead after a clear cross country to win and were closely followed by Highworth-based Paul Tapner with Indian Mill. Zara and High Kingdom were placed fifth.
Kitty said: “I am thrilled with this result because he (Persimmon) is only a young horse. He is seven and in his second season and to lead from the front and beat Olympic horses is excellent.”
British team member French and DHI Topper W finished in third place but later had to release the sad news that Topper is injured and therefore unable to compete at the Olympics.
Piggy will be replaced by first reserve Nicola Wilson and the striking Opposition Buzz, who finished seventh in the main competition at Barbury, one place ahead of Kitty King on Zidante.
French said: “I am devastated; my dreams are shattered but most of all I feel so sorry for my support team that have been such a vital part of my success and also for my family and joint-owners, the Underwoods.
“I wish the GB team all the best for the Games and look forward to being back on the team in the future.”
Membury’s Laura Collett also had an excellent weekend, winning in two categories.
She took Novice Section F aboard Brookfield Cult King and pipped Fox-Pitt by half a mark when riding Longbarn Maisie in Novice Section G.
Laura is now looking ahead to Aachen, Germany, where she will compete later this month as the selectors ponder their options before deciding on the order of the reserves for London 2012.
Although Collett was left out of the Team GB team, her top horse Rayef was short-listed as one of the 15 reserve horses for GB at the London Games.