Four New Zealand riders are in the top ten of the CIC3* Barbury International Horse Trials in Wiltshire, after two days of dressage by the 108-strong field.
It is looking good so far for Andrew Nicholson, who holds the lead on Avebury with a slick dressage test of 34.8. The combination won the event in 2012 and 2013, so a third victory is on the cards.
“Avebury is such a consistent performer and he did really good today,” said Nicholson, who is based locally just outside Marlborough.
“I am now looking forward to the jumping phases tomorrow and Sunday and kicking for the hat trick.”
His good fortune also continued in the novice class with a win in section G, completing all three phases on 25.5 penalty points on board Sydney Biats.
In second is the USA’s Clark Montgomery on Loughan Glen with 39.6, with New Zealand’s Mark Todd and Leonidas II third equal with first day leader, Britain’s Francis Whittington and Easy Target, with 42.6.
Leonidas II is Todd’s mount for the upcoming Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, and Barbury is an important event for him in the lead-up.
“Barbury’s track is a lovely galloping course and a test for horse and rider whilst the going tends to be good for this time of year,” Todd said.
“ This weekend is an important part of our countdown to WEG with Leonidas, whilst I also have some nice two star horses competing.
“And importantly I am looking forward to giving the jockey’s team a run for their money in Saturday’s JCB Champions Challenge!” he said.
Kiwi rider Lizzie Brown and Playtime NZPH is fifth equal with Tina Cook and De Novo News on 43.2, and in ninth equal is Tim Price with Ringwood Sky Boy and Britain’s Paul Sims with Calador, on 44.4.
Of the other Kiwi riders, Caroline Powell is 15th with Macamore (47), Lucy Jackson is 69th equal with Mercury Bay (56.2), Jonelle Price 77th equal with Aloha (57.8), and Craig Nicolai 97th on Just Ironic (63.8).
The judges are Finland’s Jutta Kiovula (H), Britain’s Les Smith (C), and New Zealand’s Mary Robins (B).
• The two-star classes are led by David Doel and Miss Caruso (36.1), William Fox-Pitt and Top Biats (35.8), and Christopher Burton and Nobilis 18 (38.4).
Andrew Nicholson is also leading in a Novice section (G) with Sydney Biats. Nicholson brought as many horses as he could to Barbury, “as the cross-country is also good to educate the youngsters”, he said. He rode six dressage tests on Thursday.
A total of £33,000 in prize money is up for grabs across the main classes at Barbury, and more than 1000 horse and rider combinations are competing.
Highlights over the weekend also include the inaugural JCB Champions Challenge on Saturday followed on Sunday by the final of the Retraining of Racehorses Championships and a demonstration from Para-dressage rider Ed Chanin and Laura Collett riding Kauto Star.
The JCB Champions Challenge is an all-star celebrity race between teams of jump jockeys, event riders, showjumpers, and hunt scurry riders over a specially designed course, including a water jump in Barbury’s main arena. Joining Todd on the eventer’s team is Zara Phillips, William Fox-Pitt, and Laura Collett. The jump jockeys team includes AP McCoy, John Francome, and Sam Twiston-Davies.