There was a fairytale ending to the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials when New Zealander Andrew Nicholson (NZL) and his delightful grey gelding Avebury made history with a third successive victory at this always challenging British CCI4*.

The legendary New Zealander also sprang into a bonus fourth place in the FEI Classics™, although William Fox-Pitt’s (GBR) position at the head of the leaderboard never looked in doubt. His fourth place at Burghley with a beautiful clear Jumping round on Bay My Hero was enough to clinch the title for the fourth time since the series began in 2008.

When Sam Griffiths (AUS) and Happy Times hit two fences to drop a place to third and Oliver Townend dropped from overnight third to eighth with an unfortunate four rails down on Armada, Nicholson was left a two-rail breathing space over Jock Paget (NZL) and Clifton Promise who had jumped an immaculate clear that was to bring them up into the runner-up spot.

However, Mark and Rosemary Barlow’s intelligent grey seemed to know exactly what he had to do, and Nicholson coolly kept him in the perfect outline and rhythm to jump clear for just two time faults.

“I can assure you that I didn’t feel that cool!” said Nicholson, who admitted to feeling the strain. “He’s a good jumper but I knew I’d got to keep calm and confident. It was tempting to speed up at the last two fences, because I knew I was heading for time faults, but I decided to stay in a rhythm because I really wanted to win with a clear round.”

He added: “This isn’t just about me, it’s about the team at home – I’m just lucky enough to ride the horse. I’ve had a bad year – I shouldn’t have fallen off at Badminton and then I really wanted to win a medal in Normandy and didn’t – so I’ve put myself under a lot of pressure. Winning this means an awful lot.”

Three horses were withdrawn before the Jumping phase including, unfortunately, Hannah Sue Burnett’s Harbour Pilot, from seventh place, and one was eliminated at the final Horse Inspection, first-timer Roo Fox’s (GBR) Fleet Street.

There were 14 clear Jumping rounds from the 38 finishers, with Australia’s Murray Lampard finishing best of the 17 first-timers in 10th place on Under the Clocks. Gemma Tattersall, a stalwart member of Britain’s FEI Nations Cup™ squad, was the second best of the home side, rising 22 places after Dressage to finish fifth on Arctic Soul.

The Badminton winner Sam Griffiths, who has been established in Britain for many years and was competing in his eighth CCI4* on the 15-year-old Happy Times, finished second in the FEI Classics™ from Oliver Townend, the 2009 winner, who slipped a place to third. Tim Price (NZL), the Luhmühlen winner, hung on for fifth place behind Andrew Nicholson, just edging out the Adelaide winner Christopher Burton (AUS).

“It was fantastic to win again,” said Fox-Pitt. “It’s all down to my horses. Seacookie got it off to a great start at Pau last year and Bay My Hero was brilliant at Kentucky. But then I had a fall at Badminton and withdrew Cool Mountain at Luhmuehlen and it was all looking a bit patchy. The FEI Classics™ is a great addition to our sport.”

Final Results
1. Andrew Nicholson/Avebury (NZL) 40.5 + 5.6 + 2 = 48.1
2. Jock Paget/Clifton Promise (NZL) 38.8 + 16.4 + 0 = 55.2
3. Sam Griffiths/Happy Times (AUS) 40.2 + 9.6 + 8 = 57.8
4. William Fox-Pitt/Bay My Hero (GBR) 39.5 + 20.8 + 0 = 60.3
5. Gemma Tattersall/Arctic Soul (GBR) 53.0 + 11.2 + 0 = 64.2
6. Bill Levett/Improvise (AUS) 48.7 + 17.2 + 0 = 65.9
7. Izzy Taylor/Briarlands Matilda (GBR) 48.3 + 11.2 + 8 = 67.5
8. Oliver Townend/Armada (GBR) 48.3 + 6.8 + 16 = 71.1
9. Jonelle Price/The Deputy (NZL) 53.5 + 17.6 + 0 = 71.1
10. Murray Lamperd/Under the Clocks (AUS) 50.2 + 18.8 + 10 = 79.0

Full results on