Delight for Nick at British Open but event ends in injury for top Kiwi and spectator

August 31 2015

CHIPPING Sodbury eventer Nick Gauntlett earned a top 12 place in the British Open at Gatcombe Park with El Grado, a horse he bought in Australia at the end of last year.

CHIPPING Sodbury eventer Nick Gauntlett earned a top 12 place in the British Open at Gatcombe Park with El Grado, a horse he bought in Australia at the end of last year.
The pair had one showjump down in the feature class of the prestigious Festival of British Eventing to add to their dressage score but then jumped clear around the cross-country track.
Although incurring time penalities across country, their unblemished jumping over the solid fences resulted in a rise up the leaderboard.
Nick said: “El Grado completed a fantastic cross-country round – very exciting for the future.”
The final phase of the Open, with Gatcombe’s undulating ground adding to the challenge, always produces drama.
But this year’s event nearly resulted in a tragic outcome for leading rider Andrew Nicholson, who had been well placed to retain his Open title from 2014.
Having jumped the last of the 26 obstacles with Cillnabradden Evo, the pair had a crashing fall, resulting in Andrew receiving a severe neck injury.
The Wiltshire-based New Zealander underwent an eight-hour operation at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford to repair the damage, later revealing he could have been paralysed.
He said: “I have been incredibly lucky. My surgeon, Mr Jeremy Reynolds, told me that the injury I sustained to my neck would have caused paralysis at the time of injury, in 98% of cases. I was extremely fortunate this did not happen.
I underwent an eight hour operation where they repaired the fractures and stabilised my cervical spine. This procedure in itself was not without risk, and I cannot thank enough, the team of spinal surgeons at the John Radcliffe hospital, for what they have done.My surgeon, Jeremy Reynolds, told me the injury I sustained to my neck would have caused paralysis at the time of injury in 98 per cent of cases. I was extremely fortunate this did not happen.”
Andrew is now home and fully mobile but won’t be riding again this season as his recovery will take time. But he said he was already looking forward to getting back to full fitness.
The Open title went to Australian Christopher Burton on TS Jamaimo, ahead of Kiwi Jonelle Price on Classic Moet, with third-placed Nicola Wilson becoming national champion as best of the British with Beltane Queen.
Former Badminton Horse Trials champions, Sam Griffiths and Paulank Brockagh, lost their chance of victory with a fall six fences from home. Running loose, the horse collided with a spectator, who was taken to hospital with reported broken ribs. Oliver Townend won the British intermediate championships on Note Worthy and had a one-two in the British novice championships with Sonic De Sermentol and Ridire Dorcha.