Nicholson's hot eventing form continues
He's set the bar incredibly high but world No 1 Andrew Nicholson cannot see why his lucrative, career-best equestrian eventing form won't continue into next year.
Nicholson is almost unbeatable right now; he won the four-star event in Pau, France, yesterday, which was his fourth successive victory and second four-star win in as many starts, having won at Burghley last month.
The 51-year-old grandfather is certainly cashing in on this form and a quality stable of horses; he won another €35,000 (NZ$55,000) for his victory yesterday, has all but secured the US$50,000 (NZ$61,000) bonus for finishing this year on top of the world rankings, and is off to a cracking start in the 2012-13 Classics series, a points-based system across the six four-star events (the equine equivalent of golf majors or tennis grand slams).
Pau was the first event of the series and although Nicholson had to settle for second to Britain's William Fox-Pitt this year, he's made the perfect start as he eyes the US$150,000 top prize, decided after Burghley next September.
"It's a shame this is the end of the season now, isn't it," he said as he started the journey from southern France to Wiltshire yesterday.
"Actually, to be honest, it will be nice to have a break from it all.
"It's been pretty full-on all year, so it will be good to recharge and come out next season and hopefully pick up where we left off.
"There's no reason why we shouldn't; we've got some very good horses."
Nicholson was chuffed his top horse, Nereo, could notch its first four-star win, especially after the ups and downs of the Olympics, where the combination bounced back superbly from well-documented misfortune in the dressage to finish fourth, leading New Zealand to a team bronze.
The Classics series was one of the few titles to this year elude Nicholson, who adds Pau to his three other four-star wins, which were all at Burghley (in 1995, 2000 and last month).
"Nereo is a real star horse and I'm thrilled for him and his owner, Libby Sellar," he said.
"They've been very loyal to me and nobody deserves to win a four-star more than Nereo. To win in a very strong field, it's a great way to finish the year."
Nicholson, who is from Waikato but has been based in England since the 1980s, has a couple of smaller events in November and December and will then put his feet up before training begins again. "I'll spend some time at home, try to be normal, spend time with my family and try and do the stuff you'd normally do at weekends," he said. "But first there will be a few drinks when I get home."
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