Andrew Nicholson has just won his fifth Barbury Castle title in a row, this time with Nereo. He won the other four on the just-retired Avebury, but Nereo looked every bit the champion this weekend, and has finished second to Avebury here in the past. Andrew won the lucrative Event Rider Masters series, and the £16,000 first prize. His children were delighted, and ran to hug their dad when he dismounted after flying through the finish flags.
Andrew did add two time penalties to his score, but not in the cross-country! He collected them in the show jumping, which was held in the morning. It was a tough course and involved going up and down banks, with many of the riders having faults. Going into afternoon’s cross-country, he was in the prime position and had a few seconds up his sleeve but did not need them, producing the fastest round of the day and putting on a faultless jumping display. He had the worst of the weather too: it was fair pelting down.
Andrew had been quite coy about his chances in pre-jumping interviews, saying the changes to the track made by course designer Mark Phillips were not an improvement in his books. There were quite a few twists and turns in the middle of the course, but these made great viewing for the many spectators. Andrew had also said he would go as fast as he thought he could safely, and just hoped that it would be within the time. He confessed after the cross-country to having a different attitude to the sport since his accident.
It appears that he isn’t quite as competitive these days, even admitting to being “Mr Vulnerable” at times. It is now all about going as well as he feels and as well as the horse feels, rather than riding “on the edge” as he often used to.
Jonelle Price and Classic Moet also put in a great performance, flying around the cross-country to finish in eighth place and move up the leaderboard in the season-long Event Rider Masters series. She is now in fourth place with 47 points. Gemma Tattersall leads the series at the moment on 66. She finished third in today’s leg. Paul Tapner is in second place on 63 after his second placing today. Astier Nicholas from France is third on 59.
Jesse Campbell was very pleased with Cleveland, signalling that he believes this horse has a great future. The pair finished ninth in today’s competition. They too were under the time in the cross-country with four faults in the show jumping.
The dressage leader, Marcio C Jorge from Brazil, had two down in the show jumping but a good cross-country to finish fifth overall, a good pre-Rio run.
Sir Mark Todd struck near-disaster in the show jumping on Leonidas II. Just as the commentators were saying what a fine track record this horse has in show jumping, with no faults for the last two years, Leo’s attention was caught by the camera crew in the middle of the treble. He stopped twice, took rails, and came out with a lot of time faults as well. His cross-country wasn’t up to usual standards either, with 20 penalties at fence 7 after jumping the wrong side of a flag, plus time faults. The pair finished in 26th place. Hopefully it was just “one of those days” for our eventing knight, and Leo comes back to his normal good form. Blyth Tait withdrew Xanthus after the dressage, as the pair are Aachen-bound for this weekend’s competition.
If you want to watch any of the action, you can see the replays on this link. The next leg of the Event Rider Masters is the Gatcombe Festival of Eventing.
In the other CIC3* class, Australia’s Chris Burton had a good win on Polystar I from Nicola Wilson on Bulana and Sarah Cohen on Treason. Bulana was produced by New Zealander Lizzie Brown and has been going very well for Nicola for the last couple of seasons.
The best-placed New Zealander in this class was again Andrew Nicholson, this time on Jet Set IV who recovered from a disappointing dressage test to finish 13th. Blyth Tait was right behind him in 14th spot on Bear Necessity V with Sir Mark Todd on Landslide and Lizzie Brown on Havanna Van Castanaehof 17th and 18th. Caroline Powell on Spice Sensation was 23rd and Tim Price on The Precious One 27th. Tim did not take Bango cross-country as they too soon head off to Aachen.