Andrew Nicholson hits lead after cross country

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 09:17 16/06/2013
Andrew Nicholson
Reuters
WORLD CLASS: Andrew Nicholson in action at the London Olympics.

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Cross-country king Andrew Nicholson has delivered another faultless display to claim pole position heading into the final phase of the Luhmuhlen four-star event in Germany.

The world's top-ranked three-day eventer rode a double-clear round on Mr Cruise Control to climb from third to first, heading into the final showjumping phase on Monday (NZT).

The New Zealander, widely regarded as the best cross-country rider in the world, was six seconds inside the allotted time and remains on his dressage score of 38.0 penalty points.

The leader after the dressage, German Ingrid Klimke, was forced to retire her mount Tabasco TSF, while Australian Lucinda Fredericks dropped from second to 11th after incurring 19.6 time penalties.

It leaves Nicholson with a slender 1.7-point lead over the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips, riding High Kingdom, then there's a big gap back to Australian Kevin McNab and Clifton Pinot in third place (47.5 points).

There is a four-point penalty for each rail knocked down in the showjumping.

Nicholson is also sixth on Rathmoyle King while fellow London Olympian Jonelle Richards is eighth on Flintstar.

Badminton champion Jock Paget withdrew Bullet Proof before the cross-country while Nicholson and his third mount, Qwanza, were eliminated during the cross-country test.

Nicholson currently leads the FEI Classics series, which covers the six four-star events in the world, from Paget and is gunning for a fourth four-star victory in five starts.

He won at Burghley, England, and Pau, France, late last year and started 2013 with victory in Kentucky in the United States and a third-placed finish at Badminton in England.

Victory at Luhmuhlen would guarantee him the Classics title and $US150,000 with Burghley still to come this season.

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