New Zealander Andrew Nicholson made an immediate statement of intent as the St James’ Place Wealth Management Barbury International Horse Trials began in Wiltshire on Thursday, July 9.
Nicholson is bidding for a remarkable fourth successive CIC three-star Barbury title with his triple Burghley winner Avebury. But it was his London 2012 ride and this year’s Badminton challenger Nereo that took centre-stage on a busy opening day of dressage.
Nicholson and Nereo saw hopes of Badminton glory disappear two months ago when three showjumping fences down on a dramatic final day saw them drop from first to sixth. But there was no sign of any prolonged hangover at Barbury, as they took early charge of the CIC three-star with a dressage score of 38.3.
It was enough to give them the lead from Louise Harwood and an in-form Whitson – sixth at Barbury last year – while Frenchman Mathieu Lemoine held third spot overnight aboard Bart L.
Dressage continues on Friday, when a raft of powerful starters include Nicholson’s supreme Avebury, his fellow New Zealander Mark Todd with Leonidas II, Australian Paul Tapner on Indian Mill, plus two strong rides for Britain’s Oliver Townend in Armada and recent stable addition Fenyas Elegance.
All three CIC two-star sections were also off and running at Barbury on Thursday, and double Olympic individual champion Todd made his presence felt.
Evergreen Todd, who, like Nicholson, is based at nearby Marlborough, leads Section B after posting a score of 38.6 with Brownsville Bertie, just ahead of Nicholson and Loughnatousa Joey and Harry Meade on Vroljik (pictured), who are tied second, with William Fox-Pitt‘s potential ride for the European Championships at Blair Castle later this year, Bay My Hero, fourth.
Tim Price, leading Section C on The Court Jester – Christopher Burton (Santano II) is second and Lucy Jackson (Mercury Bay) third – while Fox-Pitt and Randam De Mons head Section D from Jesse Campbell (Cleveland) and Todd (Oloa).
Images: top of page, Andrew Nicholson & Nereo, Lucy Hall Photography; bottom, Harry Meade & Vroljik, Ellis Gould / Barbury Horse Trials