Andrew Nicholson has made a winning return to competition following a serious cross-country fall last season.

The top event rider rode six horses in open novice and open intermediate classes at Aldon (18-20 March).

Andrew won with Perfect Stranger (pictured, top) in the open intermediate and achieved top 20 placings with all of his rides.

He now has his sights set on Badminton (4-8 May).

Andrew is entered for the Gloucestershire four-star on his London 2012 ride Nereo, three-time Burghley winner Avebury and Qwanza, who has completed Luhmühlen and Kentucky CCI4*s. Nereo and Avebury are his first-choice rides.

“I will only go there if I feel confident,” he told H&H.

“The [horses] feel very good — they always do at this time of year. They are going very well, they are a bunch of lovely horses.

“I have cut down a bit on the number I would normally have.”

Andrew sustained a serious neck injury at the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe on 9 August last year.

He was riding Cillnabradden Evo in the CIC3* when the pair fell at the final fence of the cross-country.

Andrew was taken to hospital in Swindon before being transferred to the John Radcliffe in Oxford.

The six-times Olympic rider had an eight-hour operation to repair fractures and stabilise his cervical spine.


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Cillnabradden Evo was uninjured in the fall.

“My surgeon, Mr Jeremy Reynolds, told me that the injury I sustained to my neck would have caused paralysis at the time of injury, in 98% of cases,” he said last August. “I was extremely fortunate this did not happen.”

Just five days after the accident, Andrew was walking unaided and had a full range of movement.