byTori Repole| May 7, 2017
Two years ago, at the 2015 Badminton CCI4* Horse Trials, Andrew Nicholson of New Zealand and the now 17-year-old CDE Gelding Nereo (Fines x Golfi) were 1st on the leader board going into the Show Jumping round of competition. Three dropped poles later, the duo found themselves in a disappointing 6th place, leaving the event without a podium finish in sight. In the latter half of 2015, Nicholson sustained a neck injury that kept him out of the saddle for nearly four months, and one year later, he chose to opt out of Badminton as he wasn’t fully ready to return to competition at the CCI4* level.
A year later, on Sunday, May 7th, 2017, Nicholson and Nereo would stage a comeback for the ages on the final day of competition at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton CCI4* Horse Trails, the second leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing. The event was held on the grounds of the Badminton House in Gloucestershire, England, and for the first time in history, Nicholson was able to capture his long sought after win.
Some might say that the third time is the charm, but for Nicholson, competing at Badminton for the 36th time, this year might officially take the cake. Here are 24 facts to know about 2017’s comeback kids.
- Andrew’s horse Avebury won the Burghley CCI4* Horse Trials three times, making him the only horse to do so (2012-2014). Avebury is also the only horse who has earned back-to-back wins at Burghley.
- For vacation, Andrew likes to go to the seaside, but also enjoys staying home and farming.
- He’s lived in the UK for more than 30 years.
- He’s a big fan of the National Hunt racing.
- He doesn’t have a webpage or any social media accounts.
- One of his favorite moments was when he won Burghley with Avebury for the third time. “To win something like Burghley three times with a horse that you bred, then sold, then bought back again, is quite a buzz. There was quite a lot of hype about it beforehand and it is just amazing that it fell into place,” he said.
- He coached the 2004 Athens Olympics Team Gold medalists Cedric Lyard and Arnaud Boiteau.
- When he left New Zealand’s squad, he was asked to consider riding for other teams.
- Although he’s had 36 starts at Badminton, he’s never had a 1st place finish until now. He also holds the record for the most completions at Badminton.
- He’s competed in 7 Olympic Games, and has only missed two since 1984.
- In 2014, he published a book, Focused.
- He’s won Burghley 5 times (1995, 2000, 2012, 2013, 2014).
- Over the span of his career, he’s won 3 Olympic medals (2 bronze and 1 silver) and 3 WEG medals (1 gold and 2 bronze).
- Nicholson and Mark Todd were the first New Zealanders to compete at six Olympic Games.
- At 19, Nicholson made the journey to England in 1980, where his first job was grooming for Mark Todd and Southern Comfort at Badminton (which they won). Within four years, Nicholson was selected to compete for New Zealand in the 1984 Olympic Games.
- When at home, Nicolson often rides 16 horses a day.
- In 1978, he began riding in New Zealand at age 17.
- He won five consecutive three-stars at the St. James Place Barbury International Horse Trials.
- Nicholson injured his neck after a fall off his horse at the 2015 Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park, England. He was ruled out for the rest of the season as the injury required surgery, and returned to the saddle in December 2015. In 98 percent of cases, the injury he sustained to his neck would have caused paralysis.
- Nereo finished 4th at the 2012 London Olympics with Nicholson.
- He finished 2nd in the 2016 Burghley leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing.
- Nereo was born in Spain in 2000, and Nicholson has trained him since he was a young horse.
- Nereo’s full brother, Armada, is also ridden by Nicholson at the CCI4* level.
- In 2013, he was named the Best Eventing horse of the Year by the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses.
Ph: Benjamin Clark Photography