EQUESTRIAN: Andrew Nicholson and Avebury make history with Barbury hat-trick

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Barbury Horse Trials winner Andrew Nicholson on Avebury (7914068) Barbury Horse Trials winner Andrew Nicholson on Avebury (7914068)

ANDREW NICHOLSON and the grey gelding Avebury made history at the St James’s Place Wealth Management Barbury International Horse Trials by completing a hat-trick of wins in the CIC*** competition to claim the first prize of £5,000.

A clear round in the cross country on Sunday, albeit with 4.8 time penalties, led to their third successive victory in the showpiece class.

The combination led from the opening dressage discipline and never showed their rivals any weaknesses in either the showjumping or the cross country.

Nicholson, 52, could even afford the luxury of taking the long route through the main water complex.

“It was quite a tricky fence and I thought I would just give him a breather there,” said New Zealander Nicholson who counts Barbury as his local event as he is based near Marlborough.

“But he felt pretty good. He’s a horse that seems to like going back to certain places. He was squealing and shying and jumping extravagantly in the warm-up.

“To win here three times in a row on a horse that was born round here and is named after a local landmark feels pretty good. Bring on Burghley!”

Avebury, a back-to-back Burghley winner as well, galloped easily around Mark Phillips’s rolling Barbury course to finish 8.6 penalties clear of the runner-up Francis Whittington on another grey, Easy Target.

Whittington rose from eighth place after showjumping with one of the fastest rounds of the afternoon (1.6 time penalties).

“I had an amazing ride,” said Francis. “The ground was good and the course was fun to ride."

Sir Mark Todd, left in second place after the withdrawal of Malmesbury-based American Clark Montgomery (Loughan Glen), went steadily on his World Equestrian Games mount Leonidas ll to finish ninth.

Highworth-based Aussie Paul Tapner was one of only two riders to achieve the optimum time of 6min 44sec – the other was 17th-placed Beanie Sturgis on Lebowski – and he climbed the leaderboard to finish third on the rangy bay Yogi Bear Vlll.

“You have to go out of the start box meaning business here,” said Paul. “Yogi is exceptionally brave and quick and is something of a CIC specialist.”

Tapner did have the consolation of winning the £2,000 Retraining of Racehorses class on Inishmor.

Inishmor’s racing career was somewhat undistinguished, but the 10-year-old grey gelding came to Paul from Grace Muir’s HEROS racehorse rehabilitiation centre and is now competing successfully at intermediate level in eventing.

Pippa Funnell, the 2011 Barbury winner, was fourth on Second Supreme and her British team mate Tina Cook was fifth after a confidence-boosting round on her WEG horse De Novo News.

Eighteen-year-old Emily King, who has only upgraded to three-star level this season, won the Horse Trials Support Group prize of £500 as the best British U25 rider, finishing seventh overall.

“It’s been another fantastic weekend,” said event chairman Nigel Bunter. “What a result for local rider Andrew and his wonderful horse Avebury.

"We are delighted for him as well as the owners Mark and Rosemary Barlow. It’s great that the huge crowd here were able to see history in the making.”

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