This weekend sees the beginning of Andrew Nicholson’s eventing season in the UK. While that would normally not make the news, it certainly does this time, because, after the New Zealand rider’s serious injuries at the end of last season, it is a miracle he is even walking, let alone riding and back competing.
Andrew is entered in the Aldon Horse Trials in Somerset with six horses. Nothing like starting how you mean to continue! He has Ghost Story, Zacarias and Yacabo in Open Novice classes, with Jet Set IV, Perfect Stranger and Swallow Springs in the Open Intermediate.
We know that Andrew thinks a lot of Jet Set; he is a very exciting young horse. Last season they had a number of wins at Advanced level, and were third in the CCI3* at the prestigious Tattersalls 3-Day Event in Ireland. Jet Set is owned by Libby Sellers who also owns Nereo and Quimbo. Quimbo, who won the Kentucky 4* in 2013, is now living in New Zealand having retired from international eventing. Nereo is set to start his season in a few days as well: Andrew has entered him in at Great Witchingham in Norfolk on March 24.
Perfect Stranger is owned by Alex Phillips (aka Orange Eventing), who trains the horse at her base; Andrew rides the striking 14-year-old chestnut at competitions. Last season was their first together and they had some good results, including an Advanced win at Chatsworth. Orange Eventing recently posted a photo on Facebook of the pair out doing a bit of cross-country at a local training ground.
The Irish-bred gelding Swallow Springs is also an exciting prospect, and belongs to Paul and Diane Ridgeon who have been long-term owners with Andrew. Paul Ridgeon also owns the invincible Armada (full brother to Nereo), who has been ridden by Oliver Townend since 2012 on Andrew’s recommendation.
Ghost Story, Zacarias and Yacabo were all campaigned by Andrew last year at Novice level and are all stepping up to a higher level this year.
There are many other New Zealand riders competing at Aldon, including Tim and Jonelle Price, Alice Montgomery, Megan Heath and Cam Robertson. Sir Mark Todd will also have a big team there, including the lovely NZB Land Vision, and Jock Paget is giving Clifton Promise and Clifton Lush a spin in the Open Intermediate.
Andrew’s four-star horses, Qwanza, Nereo and Avebury, are all entered in Greater Witchington on March 24. Andrew is hoping to compete on Nereo and Avebury at Badminton, chasing that elusive win: it is one of the only big events that he hasn’t won, despite being the rider who has had the most completions there.
Andrew was quoted in a Wiltshire paper as saying he had given up on the hope of going to the Olympics and that the chance of he and ESNZ reconciling was practically nil. “I don’t waste too much time worrying about ESNZ and I’m just getting on with things.” You can read more on that interview on this link.
We are sure you will join us in wishing Andrew and his team all the best for this event and for the season ahead.