Andrew Nicholson and Rosemary Barlow’s Avebury marked their names in the record books at Barbury Castle by winning the CIC*** for the fourth consecutive year. The 15-year-old grey gelding looked flawless as he galloped to victory at St James’s Place finishing twelve seconds inside the optimum time, which many other horses failed to make. Avebury set the record as no horse in eventing’s history has won a class this size so many consecutive times.
“He definitely knew where he was, he felt as if he really knew his way round and could have gone even faster. He loves it here, it is a bit like Burghley [in that respect], I don’t know why,” Andrew said.
Avebury led from the start and was one of five horses to finish on their dressage score.
“The moment I hopped on him in the warm up I could tell he knew where he was and he felt superb the whole way,” said Andrew.
In the end it was an all Kiwi podium and Andrew knew when he was under starters orders with Avebury that he already had the title in the bag, with his other ride Nereo.
“They are both class horses and it is an honour to be able to ride them both. The course felt completely different when I rode Nereo to when I fell off, it wasn’t slippery but it felt like the rain had taken the sting out of the ground,” said Andrew who rode four horses in the CIC3*, Cillnabradden Evo, who he parted company with at the open corners half way round the course, and pathfinder Teseo who finished 18th.
Mark Todd completed the podium spots with the exciting Leonidas II.
“He used to get a bit keen but he feels very established now,” said Mark of the gelding who will now go to Aachen and Burghley to gain mileage in a bid for a spot on the Kiwi team for next season’s Olympic Games.
The British contingent gave the selectors a lot to think about for the twelve spots at the European championships in Blair later this year. Nicola Wilson finished best of the Brits with Beltane Queen.
“I’m such a lucky girl to have the ride on her. She’s my only horse here and it’s a long way from Yorkshire but this more than makes up for the journey. Her owners came down this morning to watch, too. She’s a lovely mare who pricks her big ears and loves her job. I feel lucky that I get to ride her,” said Nicola of the coloured mare.
Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy filled fifth spot, the gelding posted an impressive clear round for the kiwi team. The top five riders were the only to complete on their dressage scores.
Laura Collett and Grand Manoeuvre finished in sixth while promising French rider Astier Nicolas added just 2.8 cross country time penalties on Piaf De Bneville for seventh. Irish rider Padraig McCarthy finished eighth on Simon Porloe while Paul Tapner rode Indian Mill into ninth, with Pascal Leroy and Minos De Petra completing the top ten.
The weather played a crucial role in the CIC3* with riders who had multiple horses riding in completely different conditions. When pathfinders Andrew and Teseo left the start box spectators were donning their shorts and layering on the sun cream however for riders setting out in the middle of the day, most notably Ben Way and Oliver Townend, the heavens opened and visibility was poor. Oliver Townend was left ruing a frangible pin that broke when Armada hit it adding eleven cross country penalties, without these the pair would have finished in seventh instead of 21st.
The picturesque setting at St James’s Place, which is notorious for its incredible views of the cross country course, was deemed “one of the best viewing courses in the world” by commentator Mike Tucker.
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