New Zealand eventer Andrew Nicholson has withdrawn from this weekend’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials because of doubts over his fitness.
Nicholson, who has had 35 completions at Badminton, was entered with Libby Sellar’s Nereo, individual bronze and team medallist at the 2010 World Equestrian Games and third at Badminton in 2013.
He returned to competition in March after a serious neck injury sustained at the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park last August. But despite good results so far this season, included a win at advanced level on Jet Set IV at Withington on Sunday, Nicholson feels he is not quite ready for the test that running competitively at CCI4* level demands.
“I have reluctantly decided to withdraw Nereo from Badminton – through no fault of his own. I have doubts over my own fitness and ability to do him full justice at this point.”
Bred in Spain by Ramon Beca, Nereo, 16, won the French CCI4* at Pau in 2012, a couple of months after leading New Zealand to team bronze at the London Olympics, where he and Nicholson finished fourth individually.
“I successfully rode four horses in the advanced at Withington on Sunday, all of whom won prizes, but was aware I felt fatigued by the end of the seven-minute cross-country course. It would therefore not be sensible to attempt an 11½ minute course at Badminton,” Nicholson said.
“I have every confidence my strength and fitness will continue to improve and, with the full support of Nereo’s owner Libby Sellar, we now plan to target Nereo towards significant events such as those in the exciting new Event Rider Masters series.”
• Eighteen riders from this year’s Badminton waiting list have made it into the field, thanks to several other withdrawals, including Nicholson’s. US rider Boyd Martin has also withdrawn Master Frisky, leaving only three horse-rider combinations representing the US in the field. There are five Irish combinations, after the withdrawal of Sam Watson, Aoife Clark, Jim Newsam, Trish Ryan, and Michael Ryan’s Dunlough Striker.
2003 Rolex Grand Slam winner Pippa Funnell has withdrawn both her horses after sustaining injuries last weekend at Withington Manor.
Ingrid Klimke will not start Hale Bob, instead focusing on Rio 2016; Australia’s Sam Griffiths has Happy Times and Chris Burton has taken out TS Jamaimo; Britain’s William Fox-Pitt had earlier withdrawn Parklane Hawk; and Emily Llewellyn has withdrawn Greenlawn Sky High, who has been sold.