New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson jumped a clear cross-country round on Avebury for the pair to claim their third consecutive CIC3* Barbury International Horse Trials title.
Fourteen-year-old Avebury, by Jumbo, was bred by Andrew and born locally, being named after the local Roman earthworks. Avebury is owned by Mark and Rosemary Barlow.
Avebury galloped easily around Mark Phillips’s rolling Barbury course for 4.8 time penalties and still finished 8.6 penalties clear of the runners-up, Francis Whittington on Easy Target, who came up from eighth spot.
“To win here three times in a row on a horse that was born round here and is named after a local landmark feels pretty good. Bring on Burghley!” Nicholson said.
They finished on 39.6 penalties, leading from the dressage phase.
He opted to take the long route at the main water complex, giving him the time faults, in an otherwise perfect round.
“It was quite a tricky fence, that narrow fence on an uphill slope, and I thought I would just give him a breather there,” said 52-year-old Nicholson. “But he felt pretty good. He’s a horse that seems to like going back to certain places. He was squealing and shying and jumping extravagantly in the warm-up.”
Avebury, who is Nicholson’s reserve horse for next month’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, is also a back-to-back Land Rover Burghley Horse Trial winner. Nicholson is keen to complete that hat-trick at the September event.
Second-placed Francis Whittington put up one of the fastest rounds of the afternoon, incurring just 1.6 time penalties on Easy Target.
“I had an amazing ride,” Whittington said. “The ground was good and the course was fun to ride. I now know I made the right decision at Badminton [to pull up] because he feels so well and happy.”
Swindon-based Australian rider Paul Tapner was one of only two riders to achieve the optimum time of 6 minutes 44 seconds – the other was Beanie Sturgis on Lebowski, 17th – and finished third on the rangy bay Yogi Bear VIII.
“You have to go out of the start box meaning business here,” said Tapner, who revels in the high-pressure situation of running across country in reverse order of merit. “Yogi is exceptionally brave and quick and is something of a CIC specialist.”
Pippa Funnell, the 2011 winner, was fourth on Second Supreme ahead of her British team mate Kristina Cook, fifth with a confidence-boosting round on her WEG horse De Novo News.
Louise Harwood was sixth on Whitson, ahead of 18-year-old Emily King, who has upgraded to three-star level only this season. King rode beautifully to finish seventh on Brookleigh and won the Horse Trials Support Group prize of £500 as the best British under-25 rider.
Mark Todd and Leonidas II, left in second place after the withdrawal of US combination Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen, went steadily on his New Zealand team horse Leonidas ll, incurring 11.2 time penalties to take ninth.
The last 26 riders went across country in reverse order of merit and, inevitably, there were a few slip-ups under pressure. Dani Evans, lying 10th on Smart Time, Lucy Wiegersma (Mr Chunky, seventh) and Chris King (Billy Bounce, sixth) all had run-outs.
“It’s been another fantastic weekend,” said event chairman Nigel Bunter of Barbury’s 10th running. “What a result for local rider Andrew and his wonderful horse Avebury. We are delighted for him as well as Mark and Rosemary Barlow. It’s great that the huge crowd here were able to see history in the making.”