Andrew Nicholson sets his sights on Badminton

  • Top eventer Andrew Nicholson is set to return to competition after suffering a severe neck injury that could have paralysed him in a cross-country fall last season.

    The Kiwi is entered with six horses in the open novice and open intermediate classes at Aldon this week (18-20 March).

    Andrew told H&H he is looking forward to getting back to competition and is aiming for Badminton (4-8 May).

    “I have a plan to do the first couple of events to make sure I remember what to do and make sure I feel comfortable doing it well,” he said.

    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 added.

    Entries for Badminton close tomorrow (17 March) at noon.

    The multiple Olympic medallist is also entered at Great Witchingham, Burnham Market and Portman.

    “The [horses] feel very good — they always do at this time of year,” he said.

    “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 during a heavy fall at the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe in August.

    He was riding Cillnabradden Evo in the CIC3* when the pair fell on the cross-country.

    The horse was uninjured in the fall and has since been competed by Oliver Townend, winning at Poplar Park last weekend (13 March) on his first outing of the season.

    Following the fall, 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 stabilize his cervical spine.

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    “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.

    Despite finishing the 2015 season early, the Kiwi took second place on British Eventing’s top 100 list with 1,262 points.

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