Exuberant scenes, reminiscent of when Sergio Garcia finally bagged his first Major after 74 attempts last month in Augusta at the US Masters, erupted as Ingrid Klimke’s uncharacteristically poor round on her faithful ‘Bobby’ (Horseware Hale Bob OLD) saw her hopes dashed due to a stop in the treble and a further three fences down.
Amid the gasps from the arena, a crowd of journalists, riders and family rushed over to a clearly emotional Andrew with Jonty Evans leading with Three Cheers and Oliver Townend whisking Andrew off his feet!
“The feeling of winning here is different to Burghley and I think after waiting so long for it, and a few times to be so near and not make it, it’s just an unbelievable feeling. I come here every year thinking I’ve got a chance and now I’ve got very good horses. I’ve been in all sorts of places here and not managed to win it.”
Nereo was adding a second four star win to his name, five years after winning Pau and it is a testament to Andrew’s horsemanship that the son of Fines continues to enjoy his job and compete with the best at top level.
“I’ve had Nereo since he was four years old and he’s always been one of my favourites. He’s had to work very hard, the dressage hasn’t been natural for him. Galloping across country, he’s a lovely galloper and tries 100 percent every single time. I can bring him out year after year and when I was recovering from my neck injury he and Avebury were the main reasons I had a go at riding again.”
In a similar twist of fate to their 2013 show jumping round, Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam knocked a pole down at fence six, but it should not detract from their overall stunning performance. With the top two horses still competing at the veteran age of 17, it is a credit to each rider and their teams at home.
Sam still showed his enthusiasm throughout the event and Michael was, as ever, gracious in defeat when being one of the first to congratulate Andrew.
“I’m a bit unhappy with the mistake but it was my mistake and in the end we had a really good week. I was really happy with how he felt in the cross country, it’s unbelievable how strong he is at 17.”
On a day where the New Zealand flag flew high, Tim Price added to the celebrations when finishing third on Xavier Faer. Adding just a single time penalty, in an otherwise faultless round, it is clear that the 11-year-old gelding has a bright future ahead of him.
“I’ve had him for the last two and a half years and then brought him through to Advanced. He’s been a bit spooky, a bit quirky, and hasn’t been one of those horses that has won throughout the way but I always thought of him as a Badminton horse.”
“He came here as un-established in the dressage but he’s a fantastic jumper and that was on display yesterday. I would have been disappointed if he hadn’t continued [his form this season] in the same vein. I expected him to go well across the competition.”
Best of Brits
Rosalind Canter jumped a rhythmical and fluent clear round on the final day to finish best of the British in fifth place and also took home the Laurence Rook Trophy for Best British Rider not previously competed at Badminton. Riding her Nations Cup partner Allstar B, this performance must surely have earned them a place on the Strzegom European Championship team later on this year.
“He deserves to jump a clear round every day of the week in the show jumping, so it’s just up to me to put him in the right place and let him enjoy it. It’s a relief it came off.”
Allstar B, who arrived at the event last year and was found to be suffering from a heart fibrillation, clearly thrived under the pressurised atmosphere for the final five and jumped one of ten clear rounds in the final session.
“Sometimes it [the pressure] helps with Allstar B because at home he’s a very lazy horse and can go very slow and high. In there he picked up the contact, and was right up to the bridle, which made my life easier.”
Gemma Tattersall and Tina Cook joined Rosalind in the top ten, courtesy of two sensitively ridden rounds on the nervous Arctic Soul and inexperienced Billy The Red, with Tina collecting the Frank Weldon Memorial Trophy for rider of the youngest British owned and ridden horse in the top 12. Gemma, who admitted that the former racehorse found the atmosphere difficult to deal with, was pleased to find herself in the top ten again after a tricky start in the dressage.
“He was so strong but kept his shape today and jumped really well. I’m chuffed to bits. He still gets nervous but he wants to leave the poles up. He’s a very careful horse and we’ve done lots of training to keep him thinking.”
With the British eventing scene in transitional stage, it was encouraging to see several young riders have a positive three days and finish in the top 20 placings. Tom McEwen finished his Badminton in tremendous style when jumping clear with the hugely athletic Toledo De Kerser. He was not to be drawn on whether he would make the line up for the European team but added that Burghley would be a possibility.
The 10-year-old gelding continued his brilliant show jumping record, having knocked down only a single pole in 14 international starts.
“He’s some horse. I was delighted with him; he’s been fantastic all week. He does like to sometimes jump out of your hands but he jumped all the way round and he was honest.”
It was a fantastic result for Imogen Murray riding Ivar Gooden who jumped clear and inside the time to finish 21st and scoop the Worship Company of Saddlers’ Saddle awarded to the rider of the best score who is under 25 and who has not previously won a Company saddle in their career.
Sir Mark Todd’s two top 10 places
Sir Mark Todd continued to show why he is such an inspiration to so many generations, when finishing in fourth and sixth place with NZB Campino and Leonidas. The 61-year-old New Zealander rode two clear rounds without any semblance of trouble and was delighted with both of his two rides.
“I’m very relieved. I got two clear rounds and they both tried really hard and the course is jumping well. The horses have come through it [the cross country] really well and felt very fresh at the trot up this morning.”
Sir Mark Todd
Final top 10 result
1 Andrew Nicholson/Nereo – 41.4
2 Michael Jung/La Biosthetique Sam – 44
3 Tim Price/Xavier Faer – 49.2
4 Mark Todd/NZB Campino – 50.4
5 Rosalind Canter/Allstar B – 54.5
6 Mark Todd/Leonidas – 58.1
7 Gemma Tattersall/Arctic Soul – 60.2
8 Yoshi Oiwa/The Duke Of Cavan – 62.2
9 Horseware Hale Bob OLD/Ingrid Klimke – 62.6
10 Billy The Red/Tina Cook – 63.4