It was just another day at the office for Andrew Nicholson, who made short work of the tough CIC3* track at Barbury International to clinch his fourth consecutive win aboard Mark and Rosemary Barlow’s Avebury.
This is a historic moment for Andrew and his veteran partner, and it’s clear this track suits them well as they easily came home 12 seconds under optimum time on a wet track to clinch the win on their dressage score of 33.9. This is a history moment for both Andrew and Barbury, as no horse has ever won four times running.
“Avebury definitely knew where he was – he felt as if he really knew his way round and could have gone even faster,” Andrew said following his final cross country run. “And I was thrilled with Nereo as well, who felt great. It’s a privilege to ride two horses like that.”
This score was Avebury’s lowest of his four wins — his previous lowest came in 2013 with a final score of 34.4. Bear in mind also that Andrew and Avebury have also won the last three Burghley titles, so clearly this pair prefers to win things in spades.
Not to be overlooked is the second place performance of another of Andrew’s rides, his WEG mount Nereo. Nereo finished in second on a 38.3, moving up from fourth with a double clear round earlier in the day.
Sir Mark Todd and Leonidas II picked up third place, also bumping up a couple of spots, on a final score of 38.4. The top three are the only pairs to finish with a score still in the 30s.
The time, as expected, proved difficult to attain as only seven pairs of the 61 who completed managed to make the time. Quite a few pairs withdrew prior to cross country, with 23 electing not to continue on after show jumping. This includes second placed Francis Whittington and Easy Target as well as seventh placed Sarah Bullimore and Lilly Corinne.
Few of the pairs who completed ran into any trouble on course, six were eliminated and five pulled up to call it a day.
We saw some really classy riding throughout the day today; the riders are all gearing up for the European Championships at Blair Castle in September and certainly gave the selectors much to think about.
Many, many congratulations are in order to Andrew on his stellar weekend. There is always something special about witnessing history in the making.