Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials-bound Nicholas (Nick) Lucey has been surrounded by horses all his life.
His mother Mandy evented to four-star level, picking up top 10 placings at Badminton and Burghley, while his father, Mark, is team vet to the British under-21 eventing team and also the Spanish eventing team. He has also attended five Olympic Games working for different nations as team vet. So to say horses are in Nick’s blood would be a slight understatement.
“I got my first pony when I was four-years-old and I soon caught the eventing bug,” says Nick who has a yard of horses at home near Burford.
Nick’s first taste of success came at the 2009 Pony Club open eventing championships when he was a member of the winning Heythrop team. He was also the winner of the prestigious Urky Newton bursary (now known as the open cross-country horsemanship bursary), for his super ride across country.
In 2011, Nick bought the then six-year-old Proud Courage from Tom Searle, who had produced him up to novice level.
“‘Pete’ is very easy to do but he was a dreadful jumper in the early days — we always had fences down in the showjumping and for the first two years that I had him, I never thought we would get beyond one-star,” laughs 23-year-old Nick.
“He was initially quite strong, so we worked hard to make him rideable and I produced him slowly while I was at university,” explains Nick who graduated from Reading with a 2:1 in micro-biology. “Dad made me go there as he insisted I needed a back-up plan.”
After three-and-a-half seasons of chipping away with Pete, with the help of Pammy Hutton and Simon Lawrence, Nick jumped double clear at his first three-star at Barbury in 2014.
“We suddenly realised Pete could potentially be a four-star horse when he jumped well at three-star,” says Nick.
Since then the pair have jumped clear cross-country around seven out of their nine three-star starts (CIC3* and CCI3*).
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Nick has never been to Burghley before.
“I think not knowing what is coming in terms of the atmosphere means I am less nervous. But I did watch the cross-country course preview the other day,” says Nick. “There are some big jumps!” he jokes.
“Mum has watched it about 30 times and I think she’s more worried about it than I am,” Nick confesses.
“Pete’s weakest phase is the dressage — if I can keep him calm in the canter work it should be alright and I would love to finish in the top half at the end of it all.”