Andrew Nicholson Born 1961
Following an impressive cross-country ride on Spinning Rhombus, Nicholson began the show-jumping section of the three-day event knowing that Spinning Rhombus could knock over seven fences and still the New Zealanders would win the team gold medal.
But Spinning Rhombus had a nightmare round, knocking over nine fences and the New Zealand team, which also included Vicky Latta and Blyth Tait (Mark Todd was in the team but was ineligible for a medal because he did not complete the event), slipped to the silver medal position behind Australia. Nicholson, who’d been flying high in the individual competition, plunged to 16th.
The injustice of it all was that the popular Nicholson was regarded throughout the eventing world as an outstanding competitor.
He grew up in the Waikato, always being around horses, though his parents ran a sheep farm.
Nicholson was a long-time friend of Mark Todd and helped Todd on his early forays to England. At Atlanta in 1984, when Todd was winning the Olympic three-day eventing gold medal on Charisma, Nicholson finished 28th on Kahlua.
Like Todd, Nicholson based himself in England, where he enjoyed continued success in the world of three-day eventing and as a horse trainer.
He really announced himself on the world stage when he was a member of the New Zealand team – riding Spinning Rhombus – that won the world team title at Stockholm in 1990.
Nicholson had a mixed time of it at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He and Buckley Province didn’t fare too well in the individual event, and the horse had to be retired. But in the team event, Nicholson, riding Jagermeister II, played a big part in the New Zealand team (also including Latta, Tait and Vaughn Jefferis) securing the bronze medal.
After solid but unspectacular dressage and cross-country rounds, Jagermeister II excelled in the show-jumping, and Nicholson piloted the horse around the course without knocking over a rail, and with time faults of just 2.25 points. It was enough to sneak the New Zealand team into third, just ahead of France.
Nicholson competed in the 1998 world championships in Rome only as an individual, finishing fifth on New York.
By the time of the 2004 Athens Olympics, Nicholson at 43 was one of the elder statesmen of the New Zealand team. He joined the select group of New Zealanders chosen to compete in five Olympics Games. Nicholson finished 61st in the individual section at Athens and the New Zealand team was fifth.
Nicholson won Burghley in 1995 with Buckley Province and in 2000 with Mr Smiffy. He has not managed to win the other big equestrian title, at Badminton, but holds the record for the having contested this prestigious event the most times.
In 2008 Nicholson became one of New Zealand’s most experienced Olympians, riding alongside his long-time friend Todd in the New Zealand team that finished sixth. A fall in the cross-country section stifled his chances in the individual event.
The New Zealander maintained his form exceedingly well. He won the 2011 British Open Championship at Gatcombe on Nereo and was second on Avebury. In the same season he was part of the silver medal-winning New Zealand team at the Aachen International Festival.
In 2010, Nicholson won bronze individual and team medals at the world championships in Kentucky.
Nicholson was a member of New Zealand teams that were Halberg Awards team finalists in 1990, 1992 and 1996.