LONDON, May 8 (Xinhua) -- Six-time Olympian Andrew Nicholson of New Zealand on Sunday finally won the Badminton Horse Trials, the fourth leg of the FEI Classics, after a record 37 attempts over 33 years.
It was a jumping finale full of surprises as the 55-year-old Nicholson pulled off a stunning clear round on the 17-year-old Nereo to leave the two German Olympians ahead of him - Michael Jung and overnight leader Ingrid Klimke - no room for manoeuvre.
"Of course I knew I would win Badminton one day - I just didn't know when," said Nicholson.
Jung's La Biosthetique Sam, also a 17-year-old, hit the back rail of the sixth fence, so the defending champion had to settle for the runner-up spot. But he now leads the FEI Classics series leaderboard. Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob hit the same fence, and Klimke's problems were compounded with a refusal at the treble, which dropped her to ninth.
"I'm a bit unhappy about the mistake and it was, for sure, my mistake, but Sam has been superb all weekend," said Jung, also an Olympic champion.
New Zealanders Tim Price (Xavier Faer) and Mark Todd with both his horses, NZB Campino and Leonidas ll, capitalised on clear jumping rounds and moved up to third, fourth and sixth.
A total of 46 completed the competition with 20 clear jumping rounds.
Nicholson first rode at Badminton in 1984; he has since completed more times than any other rider, and has finished second, on Lord Killinghurst in 2004, and third, on Libby Sellar's Spanish-bred chestnut gelding Nereo in 2013. He was in the lead on Nereo in 2015, but it all went wrong in the final phase.
His win is even more of a fairytale considering he broke his neck in a fall 18 months ago - the prospect of competing Avebury, his three-time Burghley winner, and Nereo was a strong motivation during his recovery.
"I've been in all sorts of places at Badminton and not won, so it has been hard, but I am lucky that I've been able to keep the dream alive and keep coming back," he said.