It may have taken him 37 attempts over 33 years to finally lift the Badminton trophy, but according to Andrew Nicholson it was well “worth the wait”.
It was a nail-biting conclusion to what has been a thrilling four days of competition at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials. Andrew was in third place behind Michael Jung and Ingrid Klimk going into the final phase, with just 0.8 between them.
With the riders jumping in reverse order, Andrew was third last to go with Nereo, who isn’t known for his clean showjumping. However, Andrew piloted the 17-year-old to a superb clear to finish with one time fault on 41.4 penalties, much to the delight of the crowd.
Gasps from the crowd
Next in was Michael, who had to jump clear to stay ahead of Andrew and be in with a chance of taking the title for the second year running. The European, World and Olympic champion is used to keep a cool head under pressure but La Biosthetique Sam hit the back rail of the sixth fence, to finish on 44.0, behind Andrew.
Last to go was Ingrid Klimke and if she jumped clear she would become the first woman in 10 years to win at Badminton. Maybe the pressure of all those years was too much for her, as Horseware Hale Bob hit the same fence as Sam and then had a stop at the treble, to gasps from the gripped crowd. This dropped her to ninth place on 62.6 and meant that Andrew won his first ever Badminton.
Andrew has previously won eight four-star events at Lexington, Kentucky, Luhmülen and Burghley five times, where he made history when he won with Avebury in 2012, 2013, 2014. The 56-year-old can finally add Badminton to his impressive record.
Andrew missed Badminton last year following a fall at Gatcombe in 2015 where he broke his neck. He was miraculously back in form by the end of that year, racking up wins at Bramham and Barbury in 2016.
Nereo, is a full brother to Oliver Townsend’s ride, Armada, previously in Andrew’s own stable, and full brother to three of his former rides.
Tim Price and Xavier Faer found themselves catapulted from 34th after the dressage to third place overall, following a superb double clear. He was one of only two riders to get round the cross-country within the time allowed, but picked up one time fault in the showjuping for a final score of 49.2.
Mark Todd was fourth with NXB Campino (50.4) and also sixth with Leonidas II (58.1).
Highest placed Brit
The highest placed Brit was second-time Badminton competitor, Rosalind Canter who rode a lovey clear with Allstar B to take fifth place (54.5). All eyes are on Rosalind as a potential member of the British squad at the European Championships later this year.
Gemma Tattersall also jumped a double clear with Arctic Soul to come seventh (60.2). The pair would have placed much higher, but had a disappointing dressage score of 55.8.
Tina Cook was 10th riding Billy the Red (63.4) who was her travelling reserve for the 2016 British Olympic team. Oliver Townend came into the arena with ODT Ghareeb in seventh place, but left in 14th place after having four down.
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