Nicholson has no regrets after coming close
Andrew Nicholson says he can live with missing out - by half a penalty point - on three-day eventing's 'grand slam', a first ever Badminton title and a half a million dollars in prizemoney.
The world No 1 came agonisingly close to victory at the Badminton Horse Trials, finishing third on Nereo, 0.5 penalty points behind the winner, fellow Kiwi Jock Paget.
Following wins at Burghley and Kentucky, victory in the third leg of the grand slam, at Badminton, would have netted the 51-year-old a bonus of more than $410,000 for becoming just the second person to win the three big four-star events in succession.
That's not to mention the $117,000 for winning Badminton alone, a crown he is yet to collect in three decades of trying.
Far from dejected, though, Nicholson was in a chipper mood, believing he had done everything he could have with the grand slam on the line.
Nereo completed a good dressage then went clear in both the cross-country and showjumping rounds.
The difference between first and third? Probably one slightly-off ''flying change'' in the dressage.
''I'm very happy with myself and my horse, we were beaten by a better combination this week and I can live with that,'' he said.
''We put on a good show. I would've loved to have won Badminton and the grand slam but Jock did a great job. That's the sport.
''I wouldn't have done anything differently. I came home feeling as though I did my best. Nereo is a very good jumper and he jumped very well.''
Nicholson said he had relished the hype around the grand slam attempt - achieved successfully just the once, in 2003, by Britain's Pippa Funnell - and believed he'd given it a decent crack.
''It's been an exciting week with all the razamatazz and I've thoroughly enjoyed being part of it. Shame we couldn't quite get there.''
Paget is now the only live chance at the slam, for winning Burghley, Kentucky and Badminton consecutively, in any order.
Burghley is next up, in September, and Paget said yesterday that his Badminton-winning horse Clifton Promise would be lined up for that event.