‘King of Barbury’ claims record seventh title *H&H Plus*

  • Find out what Andrew Nicholson said about his win and who else finished on the podium

    Andrew Nicholson extended his extraordinary record in the CCI4*-S at Barbury Horse Trials by winning it for the seventh time in its 16-year history.

    Riding Paul and Diana Ridgeon’s Swallow Springs, on whom he also won the class the last time it took place, in 2019, Andrew was the fastest of the day across country with 7.6 time-faults to score a two-penalty victory over Wills Oakden and Macgregors Cooley and top the Barbury results 2021.

    The 13-year-old Chillout gelding – a grey, like Andrew’s four-times Barbury hero Avebury – was second after dressage with 27.7. Fellow New Zealander Tim Price led on his Tokyo Olympics ride, Vitali, with 25.6.

    “That was the best dressage test he’s ever done,” said Andrew. “I thought I was marked a bit hard, being early to go, but that’s the way life goes.”

    Both Andrew and Tim had fence four in the showjumping down, but Tim added a further four faults at fence 9a, while Swallow Springs left the others up.

    “He shouldn’t have had it down, but he felt like he was looking at the spectators on the hill [behind the main arena] and thought he could snake over it and misjudged it – he only rubbed it,” Andrew said. “He felt very smart across country.

    “I like coming here, it’s local, and it’s always nice to win.”

    Andrew knows the contours of Barbury’s cross-country track like the back of his hand, and the pair slipped round Alec Lochore’s course like silk.

    “The ground was superb,” observed Andrew. “The track here is quite twisty now and I thought some of the distances were a little bit short, but when it’s twisty that works because you don’t have an open gallop afterwards.”

    Barbury results 2021: Wills Oakden second

    Wills Oakden’s nine-hour drive from Perthshire proved very worthwhile when Macgregors Cooley zoomed into second place in his first CCI4*-S.

    His dressage mark of 32.9 had him in 17th place, but a clear showjumping round and just 8.4 cross-country time-faults – only Andrew was quicker – meant he rose nearly all the way up the order.

    Ella Macgregor’s nine-year-old son of Balou Du Rouet has made an impression this season, having finished fifth in his first CCI3*-L at Houghton in May.

    “He’s a serious character – two years ago he had me on the floor 13 times in one year,” said Wills. “But he’s settling now and we’ve found the key to him.

    “This was his first four-star, so I didn’t really know what my plan was – whether I was going to have a go, or whether I was just going to hunt round. I spoke to the owner and said, ‘We’ll get through the showjumping, and then make a plan after that.’

    “He’s an incredible jumper, and I thought he jumped an outstanding showjumping round. The ground here is absolutely perfect today, so I thought, ‘Why not? We’ll give it a go and see what happens.’ He was unbelievable. I’m super-proud of him.”

    Third – and third-fastest, with 8.8 cross-country time-faults – was Fiona Kashel, riding Nikki Neal’s 14-year-old Drumhowan Black Magic. Both Wills and Fiona finished on a score of 41.3, but Wills was one second quicker.

    Fiona’s other rides, WSF Carthago and Creevagh Silver De Haar, were ninth and 12th, and she said: “I got faster with each round! But the time was tight; I don’t think I could have made the time if I’d had another six horses. I was five seconds off winning it! I thought the course rode well.”

    She continued: “Drumhowan Black Magic shouldn’t be doing this – he’s small, he’s the laziest horse you’ll ride, but he’s got a heart of gold and he loves it. He’s so nimble and such a trier. I never take a pull, just kick.

    “He was entered for Badminton about three years ago but did a leg. He’s come back from that, but I don’t know if I will do a long-format CCI with him this year – I don’t want to break him again.”

    Less than a mark behind on 42.1, Tom Rowland took fourth place on Jo Handman’s nine-year-old Quintilius, with Aaron Millar fifth with KEC Deakon. Heidi Coy was sixth on Russal Z.

    For one of the first times since the autumn of 2019, eventing took place in front of a good-sized crowd at Barbury, providing the atmosphere the sport has missed for so long.

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