Equestrian-Kiwi Nicholson wins first Badminton title at 37th attempt

Geronimo Vena
Mag 9, 2017

Nicholson first rode at Badminton in 1984; he has since completed more times than any other rider, and has finished second, on Lord Killinghurst in 2004, and third, on Libby Sellar's Spanish-bred chestnut gelding Nereo in 2013.

Ingrid will need to be foot-perfect to stay ahead of reigning Badminton champions and double Olympic gold medallists Michael Jung (GER) and La Biosthetique Sam, who are just 0.4 penalties behind.

Long-term owner Rosemary Barlow joked; "It's about bloody time!" to Andrew in the collecting ring afterwards.

"I go to the big events nowadays, and if I have a live chance, I know it's a live chance and I want to win". What's so incredible about him is that you know that if you turn up he will be there, and you can't always say that about every horse.

"It is an unbelievable feeling", said Nicholson. The number of stars for each event - 4 stars is now the most elite in the world - is influenced by the height of the obstacles and difficulty of the cross-country courses, the dressage test requirements and other factors.

"At first, I had absolutely no control, but he still understands what I say".

"I'm very proud to be a New Zealander and very honoured to be able to represent New Zealand".

"I thought I cut it a little bit too fine when I was slipping at the end but I was quite happy to be in third". "Xavier Faer has been a bit spooky and quirky on the way through and the majority of time I have had him, his quirks have got in the way", he said.

"I was the only New Zealand to win a major global previous year".

Four of the seven New Zealand riders competing in the event were in action on the opening day with Jesse Campbell the on Kaapachino in 21st place, Andrew Nicholson on Qwanza in 32nd and Daniel Jocelyn on Dassettt Cool Touch 35th.

"Andrew did a fantastic job in all three phases", he said. "It is pretty emotional, and a great day for me". Jung is number one in the current global rankings in the sport, and with star mounts like La Biosthetique-Sam and Fischerrocana FST has picked up nearly every title that exists, including the Grand Slam of Eventing honour which goes to those who can win consecutively at Burghley, also in the U.K., Lexington (Kentucky, where Jung triumphed last week) and Badminton. "It was like hitting a wall of atmosphere riding into the main arena - it's a lot for a young horse to take in".

Sir Mark Todd said this years course is bigger and better than ever with no room for mistakes. "He has had some difficulties since Rio, and although we made a few mistakes at the beginning of the test, he was then listening to me again". "We've been gearing up for a good result for a while".

The 55-year-old New Zealander, who is based near Marlborough in Wiltshire, underwent an eight-hour neck operation and later revealed his surgeon had told him he could have been left paralysed following a cross-country fall at Gatcombe in August 2015.

Find out who won't showjump the afternoon after... There was disappointment for the British when Alexander Bragg's Zagreb, eighth after a great cross-country, was withdrawn from the holding box at the final horse inspection. They finished in 11th.

But when asked on Radio Sport this morning if his victory, which he rated the best of his career, was a message to ESNZ, after a three-year standoff over an incident at the world games in 2014, he slipped a knife in.

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