EQUESTRIAN: Whittington leads on day one at Barbury as Nicholson bids for hat-trick

EQUESTRIAN: Whittington leads on day one at Barbury as Nicholson bids for hat-trick

EQUESTRIAN: Whittington leads on day one at Barbury as Nicholson bids for hat-trick

First published in Sport

CURRENT world No.2 Andrew Nicholson is confident of a bold show when he bids to win the St. James’s Place Wealth Management Barbury International Horse Trials for the third consecutive year this weekend.

Last year Nicholson (Avebury) was joint-winner of the main three-star competition along with Piggy French and Tinkas Time. In 2012 Andrew landed the top prize with Avebury and also finished runner-up on Quimbo.

Across the four days of competition, which concludes with the cross country on Sunday, there is a total of £33,000 in prize money on offer.

Understandably it has attracted a strong field. There is a comprehensive turn-out for the Team GB entries at next month’s World Equestrian Games in Normandy including Tina Cook, William Fox-Pitt, Pippa Funnell, Zara Phillips and Oliver Townend, as well as a host on international stars like Nicholson and Sir Mark Todd.

Nicholson said: “Avebury is very well and the intention is to go for the hat-trick with him.

“Barbury is a great event for the competitors and spectators. I am bringing as many horses as I can as the cross-country is also good to educate the youngsters.”

For Marlborough-based Nicholson and his New Zealand team-mate Todd, whose stables are on the outskirts of Swindon, Barbury is very much their local event.

Todd, whose entries include his WEG mount Leonidas II, said: “Barbury’s track is a lovely galloping course and a test for horse and rider while the going tends to be good for this time of year. “This weekend is an important part of our countdown to WEG with Leonidas, while I also have some nice two-star horses competing.

“Just as important, I am looking forward to giving the jockeys’ team a run for their money in Saturday’s JCB Champions Challenge.”

Todd was referring to the unique celebrity horse race in which a team of eventers, led by former world champion Zara Phillips and a squad of jockeys, captained by 19-times jumps champion AP McCoy, along with two other supporting teams, will do battle over a specifically designed course of fences.

On Sunday, another highlight will be the demonstration from Para-dressage rider Ed Chanin and Laura Collett riding ex-star steeplechaser Kauto Star who has been retrained as a dressage horse. Tickets for the Barbury International Horse Trials are £15 on the gate. Children U12 years are welcome and come in free. Francis Whittington was the early leader after Thursday’s dressage tests with a score of 42.6 on Easy Target.

The same combination held the same position after the opening day of the Badminton Horse Trials earlier this season.

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