Andrew Nicholson’s star partner, Avebury, was put to sleep on September 6, 2016, after a brave battle with cancer. Here we look back at his extraordinary career.
By Jumbo out of Memento, Avebury was bred and broken by Andrew Nicholson, whose children gave him the stable name of Buddy. Initially, the grey was sold on to compete in showjumping but, when he was six, he was bought back by Nicholson’s wife, Wiggy, to do eventing. The pair won a novice competition at Gatcombe—but in 2007, Andrew ‘stole’ Avebury from his wife and began what would soon prove one of the strongest combinations of all times.
In their first year together, Nicholson and Avebury claimed the CCI* at Tattersalls, were second in the British Novice Championships at Gatcombe and finished fourth in the World Young Horse Championships at Le Lion d’Angers. In 2008, they won the CCI2* at Tattersalls and placed fifth in their first CIC3* at Gatcombe before landing the CCI3* at Saumur a year later.
After placing tenth at Badminton and eighth at Burghley in 2011, they claimed victories at Barbury Castle and at Burghley in 2012 — the first in a long series. Both events proved particularly congenial to the pair. Together, they won the Barbury title four times (from 2012 to 2015) and Burghley three times (2012-2014). So strong was the connection between Avebury and Barbury Horse Trials that the event named an iconic fence after him and even helped produced a film on the horse (you can watch it below).
Avebury and Nicholson looked set to contest a fourth Burghley victory but Nicholson broke his neck after a fall at Gatcombe in 2015 and had to bow out from competing for several months.
When Nicholson made his comeback in ealy 2016, the pair won at Great Witchingham in March, but the horse didn’t feel quite right, according to Nicholson, and owners Mark and Rosemary Barlow decided to retire him. He was then diagnosed with a tumour to the jaw that progressed faster than expected, leading to the difficult decision to put him down.
“We were deeply shocked at the rapid progression of the cancer, as only a few weeks ago he was thoroughly enjoying being ridden by (Nicholson’s daughter) Lily in his retirement,” said Andrew and Wiggy Nicholson.
“Our only relief is that we were able to ensure he did not suffer, and were able to make the right decision in the interests of his welfare — which has always been our absolute priority.
“He has been part of our family for a very long time and has given Andrew some of the greatest days of his career. He will be deeply missed.”