HISTORY IS MADE AT BURGHLEY AS ANDREW NICHOLSON CLAIMS HAT-TRICK OF LAND ROVER BURGHLEY HORSE TRIALS Avebury is the first horse in the history of the competition to win three times in succession
Andrew Nicholson riding Avebury made history and produced a thrilling and faultless ride to win the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials for the third consecutive year. Antipodeans’ dominated the top slots with fellow Kiwi Jonathan Paget riding Clifton Promise was in 2nd place and Australian Sam Griffiths riding Happy Times dropped to 3rd place after an expensive show jumping round.
The cross-country course, designed by Captain Mark Philips, proved tricky owing to the slightly softer going and more humid conditions than riders were expecting. 24 horses were either eliminated or retired on the four mile course. Despite the good ground conditions the water elements in particular proved tough for many of the horse and rider partnerships, resulting in the 11 minute 19 second optimum time proving elusive. Sam Griffiths took an early lead, despite being held twice on the course, but was pipped at the end of the day by Andrew Nicholson who’s horse Avebury must know better than any horse.
With just 12 clear rounds from the 39 riders that started the final show jumping phase, Nicholson entered the arena knowing he needed a good performance in order to be crowned the victor. Whilst Sam took the pressure off by having two fences down, Jock Paget’s round was faultless The atmosphere was tense with silence falling amongst the crowd for Nicholson’s round. The sell-out grandstands went wild when they cleared the final double.
He concluded: “I didn’t feel that cool during that I can tell you. He’s a good jumper, he’s been there and done it all, I don’t have to worry about him getting nervous with all the people I just have to keep calm and ride him like I normally ride him. It’s a big team effort when you have a horse like this who has now won this three times in a row, they’re as passionate as I am that he does well. For me, I’ve had a very bad year this year, I threw away Badminton on Nereo, and I shouldn’t have fallen off when I did. The World Equestrian Games, I was ninth when I wanted to get a medal so I’ve been putting quite a lot of pressure on him to win here. Hopefully I will be able to go to Kentucky and go for the Rolex Grand Slam but I am a little light on horses at the moment, so we will assess in February and see how we are going.”
For those who didn’t watch the Burghley coverage on BBC 2, Clare Balding rounded up Burghley with an equestrian review of the season which took place on the Lion Bridge. She was joined by Ben Maher and Harry Meade both of whom reflected on their own personal highs and lows this season. Harry who’s horse Wild Lone collapsed and died at The World Equestrian Games described his experience out there as being the exciting but at the same time the most heart-breaking of his life. And as those of us who have ridden and kept horses can vouch, that just about epitomises horses and equestrianism- excitement and heart-break!