EQUESTRIAN: Grand Slam is back on for Nicholson

This Is Wiltshire: Andrew Nicholson and Avebury Andrew Nicholson and Avebury

MARLBOROUGH-BASED world number one Andrew Nicholson's bid for the £230,000 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing is back on after world equestrian chiefs confirmed the disqualification of his New Zealand compatriot Jonathan Paget from last year's Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.

Surrey-based New Zealander Paget, 30, is awaiting a full Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) tribunal hearing, which is scheduled for June 3.

This comes after his Burghley horse Clifton Promise tested positive for the banned substance reserpine, a sedative, at the prestigious Lincolnshire four-star event last September, and was subsequently confirmed by a B sample result in November.

Nicholson is now formally promoted to become 2013 Burghley champion, winning it for a second successive year with Avebury.

In addition to the £60,000 top prize, Nicholson also finished second on Nereo, while Britain's William Fox-Pitt and Parklane Hawk move up one place to third. It is 52-year-old Nicholson's fourth Burghley title of his career.

It also means the Wiltshire-based rider will be on course to land the £230,000 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing if he wins the Rolex Kentucky event in America this weekend.

The Grand Slam, which has only been achieved on one previous occasion - by Britain's Pippa Funnell in 2003 - is awarded to any rider that wins consecutive Burghley, Kentucky and Badminton titles.

Paget is the reigning Badminton champion, having won that event with Clifton Promise almost 12 months ago, but he is now facing a lengthy ban from the sport.

Paget, who rode at London 2012 and is serving a provisional suspension from national and international competitions, requested that the FEI tribunal rule separately on automatic disqualification from Burghley prior to the full hearing.

"Paget, the Person Responsible (PR), accepted that the banned substance had been found in the horse and requested that the FEI Tribunal, prior to a full hearing, rule separately on the automatic disqualification from Burghley," the FEI said, in a statement.

"The tribunal has ruled that Clifton Promise and Paget are disqualified from their placing at Burghley, and that all points and prize money won at the event by Clifton Promise must be forfeited.

"As a result of this decision, the Burghley placings, rider rankings and FEI Classics standings have been amended.

"The full hearing of the Clifton Promise case is scheduled for June 3, 2014, after which a final decision will be issued by the FEI Tribunal."

MORE SPORTS NEWS & PICTURES IN THURSDAY'S GAZETTE & HERALD AND FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES

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