EQUESTRIAN: Nicholson's Rolex win is perfect timing

This Is Wiltshire: FINE FORM: Andrew Nicholson FINE FORM: Andrew Nicholson

ACROSS the pond, Marlborough rider Andrew Nicholson has been making the headlines after winning the Rolex Kentucky 2013 in serious style on Quimbo, writes NICKI STRONG.

The world number one looked to have it all to do when William Fox-Pitt achieved an unbeatable dressage with Chilli Morning, but Nicholson prevailed as Fox-Pitt’s tricky stallion had a stop across country and pulled up.

From there the Kiwi provided onlookers with a fault free masterclass to seal the victory. Fox-Pitt came second with his other ride Seacookie, and Nicholson took third with Calico Joe, despite having three showjumps down.

The Nicholson and Fox-Pitt show is on at Badminton next week in an unprecedented head to head that could see either rider take the $350k Grand Slam. The Grand Slam is afforded to any rider winning Burghley, Kentucky and Badminton consecutively; Nicholson sealed his eligibility this weekend, but Fox-Pitt’s challenge rolled-over following Badminton’s postponement from 2012. Nicholson will be bidding to break his Badminton duck after completing an incredible 31 times without a win.

Back on home turf, Kitty King was dominant at Withington Manor. She took first and second with her Advanced horses Persimmon and Zidante, both of whom jumped double clear. King’s great start to the season has meant that she is currently third in the British Eventing 2013 rider rankings.

Laura Collett had a successful weekend at Withington too, including a win in the Open Novice with Outward Bound who finished on his dressage score of 29.1. Allora 3 again went double clear at Advanced level, and both younger horses performed well too – Controe coming sixth in his first Intermediate.

Arguably Collett’s most personally pleasing result of the weekend though was, when reunited with Noble Springbok after eight years, she came third in the Open Novice on the 14.2 pony with whom she started her eventing career, and propelled her to stardom.

Collett gushed: “There aren't words to describe how amazing it was to be competing him again.”

By recent standards, Paul Tapner had a disappointing weekend, having an uncharacteristic fall with Wickstead Didgeridoo in the Advanced cross country. Both horse and rider were unharmed.

Tapner still managed 13th with Carlito III, who reportedly found the dressage very exciting, and Up In The Air was seventh in the Intermediate.

Sir Mark Todd was busy with multiple rides at two events. At Bicton three from four went double clear, whilst back at Withington Up N Go’s first attempt at Advanced ended with faults in both jumping phases, as well as time. Todd finished fourth in the Advanced though when piloting Lenoidas II to a smart double clear, likewise with Fernhill T Scarlett who came second in the Open Novice.

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