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Kiwis In Top Five At Burghley

Kiwis In Top Five At Burghley

Andrew Nicholson is eying the podium at the Burghley International Horse Trials.

The 50-year-old World Champs bronze medalist is sitting in fourth and fifth spots with his horses Nereo and Avebury at the end of the dressage phase early this morning (Saturday NZ time) at the high-ranking UK event.

Defending champion Caroline Powell and Lenamore are tied with Nicholson in fifth.

There is nothing in it at the top, with Simone Deitermann (GER) and Free Easy NRW out front on 39.3, William Fox-Pitt (GBR) aboard his New Zealand thoroughbred Parklane Hawk in second on 39.7, Nicholson and Nereo on 42.3 and 42.8 on Avebury, with Powell tied on 42.8.

Fox-Pitt's Parklane Hawk was produced by Matthew Grayling and has only been with the top British rider for 18 months.

Two-time winner Nicholson has been in blinding form of late, and both his mounts are excellent over the cross country – a phase that often foxes many. The sheer size and terrain of Burghley makes for one of the most challenging.

“This is a very tough event – it is a demanding cross country,” says Nicholson. “The key will be working out where to save energy out there.”

Both William Fox-Pitt and Nicholson have two horses each in the top 11.

Powell will be looking for a solid cross country from her big grey campaigner who may be one of the oldest in the field at 18, but behaves more like a youngster and adores Burghley, according to his rider.

Blyth Tait and Santos are creating plenty of interest with their return from a seven-year retirement, but are mid field after a few costly mistakes in the dressage.

Mark Todd is sitting down in the order, after being let down by Major Milestone's canter during his dressage test.

The cross country, designed by Captain Mark Phillips, will run overnight, with the showjumping on Sunday night (NZ time).

Burghley is the second-last leg of the HSBC FEI Classics, in which Todd is sitting in third spot on 15 points behind Mary King (GBR) on 28 and Piggy French (GBR) on 20.

Meanwhile New Zealanders have also been featuring at Burghley in the young event horse four year old final, where Powell was third with her Irish bred horse Up, Up and Away, and Lizzie Brown fourth with Bulana – the highest place mare in the class.

“She is our hope for Burghley in five years time,” says Brown.

Results (after the dressage phase):

Simone Deitermann (GER) Free Easy NRW 39.3 1, William Fox-Pitt (GBR) Parklane Hawk 39.7 2, Mary King (GBR) Kings Temptress 42.2 3, Andrew Nicholson (NZL) Nereo 42.3 4, Andrew Nicholson (NZL) Avebury 42.8 , Caroline Powell (NZL) Lenamore 42.8 =5, Elizabeth Power (URE) Kilpatrick River 43.3 7, Mark King (GBR) Apache Sauce 44.8 8, Laurence Hunt (GBR) Phoebus 45.3 9, Sam Griffiths (AUS) Happy Times 45.5 =10, Neil Spratt (NZL) Upleadon 49.5 23, Jonathan Paget (NZL) Clifton Promise 50.8 =29, Jonathan Paget (NZL) Clifton Lush 52.7 =35, Blyth Tait (NZL) Santos II 54.3 =40, Dan Jocelyn (NZL) Special Advocate 56.0 45, Mark Todd (NZL) Major Milestone 56.5 =46, Clarke Johnstone (NZL) Incognito III 58.2 52, Caroline Powell (NZL) Mrs Tilly 61 65, Jonelle Richards (NZL) 64.5 75, Craig Nicolai (NZL) Just Ironic 67.5 77.

ENDS

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