New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson and Avebury produced a vintage performance to retain their 2012 title at the Barbury Castle International Horse Trials, this time by a comfortable 10 penalties over Izzy Taylor on KBIS Starchaser.
Taylor, one of Britain’s most exciting prospects, was also fourth on Dax Van Ternieuwbeke, her two horses split by third-placed Lucy Wiegersma on Simon Porloe.
“It’s a great place to win,” said Nicholson, pointing out that he had originally named the horse, whom he bred, after the local Roman settlement.
“It’s a great preparation for the big competitions. Avebury is very experienced and easy to ride now and he found it very easy. It felt like a top performance in every phase.”
In a pressure-packed cross country phase, there were was just one combination to come home clear and inside time. Rising to that challenge was New Zealand’s Craig Nicolai aboard his own Just Ironic. Their efforts saw them finish in 16th place – well up from their 56th after the dressage.
The last 15 riders of each section went across country in reverse order, producing a thrilling finale. Amid the pressure, Laura Collett (Rayef), Tim Price (Wesko) and Paul Tapner (Kilronan), who were lying second, third and fifth, lost their chances with run-outs.
Tim Price and Wesko ended in 21st place, while Mark Todd and his new ride Oloa was clear but with time faults which saw him move up to 11th.
Tom Jackson, 20, who finished seventh on Waltham Fidders Find, won the Horse Trials Support Group prize of £500 as the best-placed British rider under 25.
CIC Three Star Section B
At almost exactly same moment Andy Murray was winning Wimbledon, Piggy French was also triumphing for Britain – she said she could hear the cheers from the members’ tent as she galloped past.
Last to go across country on Michael Underwood’s Tinkas Time, French rode a perfectly judged round to finish just 2 seconds outside the optimum time to hold her lead over US rider Clarke Montgomery on Loughan Glen.
Canadian rider Rebecca Howard, paying her first visit to Barbury, was third on Riddle Master. “I was hoping to give my horse experience of atmosphere, and there was certainly plenty of it here,” she smiled.
French had a tense wait as she was held on the cross-country after second-placed Mary King and Imperial Cavalier fell coming out of the water at the water at fence 12. Neither were hurt.
“It’s nice to win something!” said French, a referring to the enormous disappointment of missing the Olympics last year and also Badminton. Tinkas Time was bought for her to ride last September.
“I went off the boil after London, but Michael [Underwood] was so amazing about what happened and when I tried the horse he seemed such fun. He’s only small, a really cool little horse. He’s spooky and extremely feisty. I think he could really step up to the plate and do greater things.”
Nicholson was again the best of the Kiwis, finishing in fifth place on Nereo, with Lucy Jackson and Willy Do seventh and Jonelle Richards and Faerie Dianimo 11th.
Nigel Bunter, Chairman and owner of the Barbury International Eventing and Show summed up a great four days of sport: “There have been so many highlights over the last four days, visitors have been treated to a display of world class horsemanship with today being the jewel in the crown and the weather gods have certainly been smiling on us.
“A record crowd have joined us here on the stunning Marlborough Downs and its great that so many have been able to enjoy this glorious part of Wiltshire”.
CIC 3 Star : 1st Andrew Nicholson (NZ) Avebury (35.2) 2nd Izzy Taylor (GBR) KBIS Starchaser (45.4) 3rd Lucy Wiegserma & Simon Porloe (46.6)
CIC 3 Star Section B: 1st Piggy French (GBR) & Tinkas Time (37.2) 2nd – Clarke Montgomery (USA) & Loughan Glen (39) 3rd – Rebecca Howard (CAN) & Riddle Master (46)
CIC2* winners, Nigel Goddard, KSDigital Photography