THE BADMINTON Horse Trials crown is one of the few top prizes to have so far eluded Andrew Nicholson during a glittering career but the Marlborough-based star isn’t putting any extra pressure on himself to finally fill the space in his bulging trophy cabinet this weekend.

Nicholson, currently ranked number two in the world, has completed at the world’s most famous four-star event a record 33 times but has yet to come top of the pile, the 52-year-old securing a third-placed finish on Nereo last year.

The New Zealand ace, who has represented his country at the Olympic Games six times, will compete with 2013 Kentucky winner Quimbo while also riding trusty gelding Nereo, second at Burghley last year, as the final combination in this year’s drawn order, the trials getting under way today with the first dressage tests.

Last year’s third-placed finish wasn’t enough for Nicholson to clinch the prestigious Grand Slam of Eventing, following preceding victories at Kentucky and Burghley.

“I quite enjoyed all the razzmatazz of last year and this year, going out there trying to do the best we possibly can is still the idea,” Nicholson told the Gazette & Herald.

“I don’t worry too much about having not won at Badminton and last year, I went home pretty happy after finishing third.

“It’s a great event and I’ll go out looking to see what I can do – preparations have gone well.

“I’m not worried about going out last (with Nereo) either.

“I’m not the sort of person who likes to hang around watching all of the other riders. I prefer to just go along with my own plan.”

At this year’s Kentucky, which took place this month, Nicholson suffered a disappointing 21st-place finish on Avebury but doesn’t anticipate that he’ll be suffering a hangover from that below-par display during this weekend’s trials.

He said: “As soon as I got out there, I knew that he wasn’t right. He felt lethargic in the dressage and it just didn’t go well after that.

“Maybe he doesn’t like flying – who knows?

“It makes you realise that they’re not machines and we’ll just draw a line through that one.”