Andrew Nicholson has told H&H he has his sights set on the Equi-trek Bramham Horse Trials (9-12 June) after withdrawing from the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials last week (3 May).

The Kiwi eventer, who suffered a serious injury last year, pulled out of the four-star event two days beforehand, admitting that he wasn’t ready for it.

He was due to partner the 16-year-old gelding Nereo. Originally Andrew had aimed to compete with Avebury, but the popular grey gelding was retired last month when he was not showing his usual “zest for life”.

Andrew sustained a serious neck injury when he fell from Cillnabradden Evo during the CIC3* at The Festival of British Eventing.

The six-time Olympian underwent an eight-hour operation to repair fractures, which he later revealed could have left him paralysed,

He told H&H yesterday (Sunday, 8 May) that he’s looking ahead to more events this summer.

Andrew is now aiming at Chatsworth this weekend (13-15 May), and then hoping to have some horses at the CCI3* at Bramham.

“Bramham is still a challenge, but not so high-profile,” he said. “But you always need to have something to aim for. Having a target keeps me motivated, that’s why I had my sights on Badminton.”

He said the decision to withdraw from Badminton was “simple”.

“Just after surgery I was told how long it was likely to be before I could do certain things; and the target was to get to Badminton,” he said.

“So I fit it into the timescales of my training and started building up to events.

“I’ve been doing this long enough to know what I should be doing daily and how I should be feeling, but coming up to Badminton I still felt I wasn’t able to be up to the speed I need to be competitive.

I wasn’t confident that I could do the right thing for 12 minutes, and was worried that I’d need to slow down on the final part of the course, which would mean time faults and put me back. Also I didn’t want to pass negative vibes to the horse.”

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Andrew’s first event back was at Aldon in March, and ahead of Badminton he had been in the prizes at Withington Manor.

“I can ride horses all day long, but after seven minutes around Withington I needed a few seconds at the end [to recover]. My mobility is increasing and it’s getting better week by week. First I could do four minutes, then five. Soon I’ll be all the way there and I’m looking forward to Bramham.”