Leading New Zealand rider Andrew Nicholson guided Calico Joe to the best score on the first day of dressage at the Kentucky three-day event in the United States today.
Nicholson’s 40.8 penalties placed him ahead of American Becky Holder on Can’t Fire Me (44.2), and Canada’s Shandiss McDonald on Rockfield Grant Juan (45.7).
Defending champion William Fox-Pitt of Great Britain, lay fourth on Seacookie TSF (46.2).
The second half of the 46-horse field performs their dressage tests tomorrow.
The 51-year-old Nicholson, a six-time Olympian and needs to win this event to continue his quest to win the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam, awarded to the rider who can win the world’s three oldest events (Burghley in England, Badminton in England, and Rolex Kentucky) in succession. Nicholson won Burghley last September and, if victorious here, would need to then win Badminton next weekend.
"I’ve come out here with the Grand Slam in mind, certainly, but at the moment I’m just trying to win this one first. I’ll worry about it more next weekend at Badminton,” said Nicholson.
"It’s a great arena to ride in here. When you go down that ramp into the ring, it gives you a buzz that you’re somewhere special, but [Calico Joe] stayed cool around the ring and gave me 100 percent in the whole test. I let him down a couple of times, but he came through for me.”
Fellow Kiwi Jonelle Richards – a bronze medal team mate of Nicholson from last year’s Olympics - competes tomorrow, riding The Deputy
Nicholson has a second horse entered in Quimbo.
Will Shane Cameron beat Kali Meehan on Saturday?