Andrew Nicholson and Caroline Powell staked clear Olympic claims, with both finishing in the top five at the Bramham International Horse Trials in the UK overnight.
A lovely double clear by Nicholson and Nereo in the showjumping phase of the CIC3* just wasn’t quite enough to take victory. The combination finished on their dressage score of 42 and in second place, just 3.3 penalty points behind victor William Fox-Pitt on Neuf des Coeurs, who also won the CCI3* on Chilli Morning.
Powell and Lenamore finished on their dressage score for fourth place, with Nicholson just .8 of a penalty behind on Avebury.
Both Nicholson and Powell were chuffed with the efforts of their mounts.
“Lenamore felt fantastic,” said Powell. “We are one step closer to Greenwich and he absolutely adored this weekend. He is pretty used to rain and mud in Scotland, so the conditions didn’t bother him at all.”
Lucy Jackson and Willy Do were the best performed of the Kiwis in the CCI3* finishing in eighth spot, with Nicholson and Tristar II in 11th.
It was another weather-challenged event at Bramham, on the back of a dreadful season that has seen top events cancelled. Dressage in the pouring rain still managed to produce some good scores, although interestingly Nicholson felt Nereo – who scored 42 penalty points – had gone better than Avebury who notched 40.5.
Jackson produced some brilliance aboard Animator II to score 41.4 in their dressage and sit in fifth spot going into the second phase of competition. Powell and Lenamore in one of their first big competitions for a while made a great come-back in the dressage to finish with a score of 45 – despite an almighty buck mid-test – while defending champ Jonathan Paget and Clifton Lush scored 48.
All horses struggled in the deep mud, with those going later most definitely facing a more challenging task.
Experience shone through in the showjumping phase the following day, with many a horse notching cricket scores. However, top Kiwi combinations showed their class, with Nicholson and Nereo clear and moving up the board, Powell and Lenamore also clear and an unlucky last rail for Nicholson and Avebury.
The Ian Stark-designed cross country on the final day called for some bold riding with just nine going clear and inside time – Nicholson on Nereo, Powell on Lenamore and Richards on Flintstar included in that illustrious list..
Lizzie Brown is upbeat after her disappointing elimination in the CCI3* (under 25) cross country aboard Henton Attorney General. The two were leading the class after the dressage but were held up at the start of the cross country, which led to the horse getting a bit worked up.
They took a tumble at the second fence but have both gone home “without a bruise or a bump”.
“Gutted,” said Brown, “but it’s onwards and upwards.”
A strong team of Kiwis head to highly-ranked CCI4* at Luhmuhlen in Germany this week, including Nicholson with Mr Cruise Control, Shady Grey and Calico Joe, along with Mark Todd on Major Milestone.
CIC3*: William Fox-Pitt (GBR) Neuf des Coeurs 38.7 1, Andrew Nicholson (NZL) Nereo 42 2, Zara Phillips (GBR) High Kingdom 43.2 3, Caroline Powell (NZL) Lenamore 45.3 4, Andrew Nicholson (NZL) Avebury 46.1 5, Jonelle Richards (NZL) Flintstar 60.1 19, Lucy Jackson (NZL) Animator II 63.9 21, Lucy Jackson (NZL) Kilcoltrim Ambassador 64.6 22, Jonathan Paget (NZL) Clifton Lush 72.3 30, Kate Wood (NZL) Easy Tiger IV 95 50, Tim Price (NZL) Ringwood Sky Boy withdrawn.
CCI3*: William Fox Pitt (GBR) Chilli Morning 43.2 1, Pippa Funnell (GBR) Mirage D’Elle 53.8 2, Izzy Taylor (GBR) Briarlands Matilda 54.6 3, Lucy Jackson (NZL) Willy Do 63.2 8, Andrew Nicholson (NZL) Tristar II 68 11, Caroline Powell (NZL) Thornfield Jones 72.8 16, Craig Nicolai (NZL) Just Ironic 87.6 26.
CCI3* Under 25: Astier Nicholas (FRA) Piaf de Bneville 49.6 1, Laura Collett (GBR) Noble Bestman 51.8 2, Sarah Stretton (GBR) Skip On It 68.4 3, Lizzie Brown (NZL) Henton Attorney General eliminated (in the cross country).