Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2017
Words By Stephanie DeWitt Photography Julian Portch #MMBHT
After 25 years and 36 Badminton completions, Andrew Nicholson has finally achieved his dream of lifting the Mitsubishi Motors Trophy!
"It's an unbelievable feeling!" he said. "I've come every year for twenty-five years thinking I had a chance to win and finished in many places. It feels very different to winning at Burghley."
Australia's Chris Burton was delighted to be in the lead after the dressage phase, having posted the third best ever score of 32.9 at Badminton with Graf Liberty. In second and third were Germany's Ingrid Klimke (Horseware Hale Bob - 36.4) followed by Irishman Jonty Evans (Cooley Rorke's Drift - 37.2) who last competed at Badminton ten years ago. All three riders were looking forward to the challenges of the cross-country course, this year designed by Eric Winter who had made some radical changes.
"The time element of the cross-country course is always tough," said Burto. "There are sure to be plenty of problems but I think I can see a way through."
However, at the end of cross-country day, Burto and his 12 year-old brown gelding had amassed 20 jumping and 16.4 time penalties, sliding down to 19th position. In the lead was Ingrid Klimke on Bobby, adding 3.2 time penalties to her dressage score, closely followed by Germany's Michael Jung with the brilliant La Biosthetique Sam FBW who finished on their dressage score. The only other combination inside the time was Kiwi Tim Price and Xavier Faer taking 4th place. Less than one penalty behind the leaders, compatriot Andrew Nicholson riding 17 year-old Nereo took the 3rd slot.
Third last to showjump, Andrew and Nereo executed a calm, foot-perfect round, only incurring one time penalty to finish on a final score of 41.4. To maintain their places at the top of the leaderboard, Ingrid and Michael had to jump clear. Having rubbed a few poles, La Biosthetique Sam took down the spread over water at fence 6, but still finished in second with a final score of 44.0. Ingrid and Bob likewise faulted at fence 6, came into the treble combination all wrong and amassed a further 12 jumping and 7 time penalties, sliding down to 9th.
So, at long last, the five-times Burghley winner (three years in succession with Avebury!), the holder of Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at WEG and Olympic level, has finally added the Mitsubishi Motors Trophy to his list of achievements!
"You have to have a twenty-five year plan at least!" said Andrew.