Andrew Nicholson leads at the end of day one at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials. The 2014 Burghley winner rode the first of his two horses Nereo to a score of 37.8.
“If had my way I would have ridden Nereo second but the draw is the draw and you just have to deal with it,” said Andrew.
Andrew has ridden the chestnut gelding for eleven years.
“It was the smoothest test he has ever done, I pressed for maximum today and it felt smoother than any of his previous tests. It’s major to be here on a horse I know so well, he gives 100% to his job. We have built up a great relationship so I’m confident going into the cross country,” said Andrew.
The riders were complimentary of the cross country course.
“It’s a very fair course you just have to ride it well. There are some places you have to sit on your backside and work after a long gallop, it doesn’t matter how many times you walk it when you ride it you will have to deal with whatever stride you get there,” said Andrew.
Fellow Kiwi Jock Paget sits in second overnight with Clifton Promise on 41.2.
“This test was better than the one he did in 2013 it felt more supple and relaxed. He is a really fun horse and always tries his best,” said Jock.
The 2013 victors will be ones to watch on Saturday.
“If it is ridden well the horses will understand. There are no surprises out there, some really good places to kick on and gallop but also parts were we have to slow down like at the lake and quarry,” said Jock.
Germany’s Niklas Bschorer contesting his first four star completes the top three on Tom Tom Go 3 with a score of 42.1. Niklas is the youngest competitor in the field and described riding at Badminton as a very special occasion.
“The atmosphere is very unique here, he did a really great test but I think he could have done a little better,” said Niklas.
The 20-year-old is looking forward to tackling the world famous cross country course on his reliable steed.
“He’s a great jumper with lots of scope. The course looks very inviting and do able you just need to commit and be confident, I can’t wait. I’ll be walking the cross country course with Mark Todd and German team trainer Christopher Bartle, who are training me while I’m based in the UK for this season,” said Niklas.
Best of the Brits was Flora Harris and her 2015 Nations Cup ride Amazing VIII on 43.6, this year’s Badminton will be Flora’s second CCI**** competition. Another kiwi, the great Mark Todd, sits in fifth place going into tomorrow’s second day of dressage. Four British girls sit in the next places, Pippa Funnell (Redesigned) in sixth, Laura Collett (Grand Manoeuvre) seventh, Nicola Wilson (One Two Many) in eighth while Mary King lies in ninth on Kings Temptress. Australia’s Chris Burton and TS Jamaimo complete the top ten at this stage, less than ten penalties behind the leader.
The day started really well with Paul Tapner first to go who rode the big grey Kilronan to score 47.8, to sit in joint eleventh alongside EWW blogger Louisa Milne and King Eider. It was a beautiful day and some lovely tests were ridden even in windy conditions. A crowd favourite was Ben Hobday and part Clydesdale Mulry’s Error who Carl Hester described on Radio Badminton as having something different. Mulry was really relaxed in the atmosphere and got a huge cheer from the crowd when he stopped to graze after Ben had saluted at x.
With three days of competition to come there is a lot to play for before someone drives home with the £80,000 prize cheque. Team EWW will be reporting on all the action – on and off the course – so don’t forget to check back tomorrow for our reports as well follow our regular updates on Twitter (@EventingWWNews) and Facebook.
Report Courtesy Nat Clark and Jess Crocker
Photographs Courtesy of Tim Wilkinson