Piloting Cillnabradden Evo (pictured below), owned by Sally-Anne Eggington, around the 19-fence cross-country course, Andrew rode every tight line available to him. Bar rattling the first part of the second road jump, the horse, a nine-year-old geding, never looked like making a mistake and came home clear in a time of 124.94.
Andrew said of his round: “The fences come up very quickly in the International Arena and it was a very intense course. You’ve got no time to think about what you might have for lunch!”
Interestingly, Cillnabradden Evo who events at advanced and CCI3* level, hasn’t had a fence down so far this season. Andrew last won here in 2002 riding Mallards Treat, and the reinvention of the Eventers’ Grand Prix provided a real spectacle for spectators.
Irish rider Elizabeth Power was last to go riding the Good Times Syndicate’s Doonaveeragh O One. The 14-year-old gelding won the Speed Derby at Hickstead with Elizabeth’s brother Robbie Power in 2013 and has also been placed twice in the Eventers’ Grand Prix, so was no stranger to the course or the speed that was required to win this class.
Doonaveeragh O One oozed class throughout his round, galloping and jumping every question out of his stride. Sadly they rattled the first part of the second road jump, and it fell. Elizabeth still kept her foot to the floor though, and finished in a time of 121.02, but sadly the four seconds added for the fence down meant she finished on a total of 125.02, just 0.08 seconds behind the winner.
“Andrew [Nicholson] obviously loosened the pole when he rattled it!” joked Elizabeth whose brother won a race at Galway today: “My family rang me before I went into the arena and said; ‘No pressure, but your bother has just won, so you know what you need to do!'”
Tom McEwen set a great pace when he was first into the arena riding his own eight-year-old Cuarento. The pair jumped a polished clear round to finish in a time of 126.16. Tom said of his round: “There’s nowhere to hide in that arena, but it was great fun.”
The course caused a number of problems with only four combinations from the original 20 starters jumping clear.
Many people’s favourtie to take the class, Tim Price and his four-star winner Wesko looked like they were on for the win until the last fence fell. They eventually finished in fourth place.
Problems were littered around the course and many riders took the long route at the famous Derby Bank.
Unfortunately Tanya Kyle (Emerald Butterfly), Rose Carnegie (Master Rory) and Joseph Murphy (Electric Cruise) all took a dunking at the spooky water, but they walked away safe and sound.
Tina Cook took an unscheduled dismount at fence four, the open ditch, when her horse, Zhi Zancoringo took an exception to the ditch and jumped the hedged wing, unshipping Tina who was none the worse for wear.