MARLBOROUGH-based Andrew Nicholson admitted it was ‘well worth the wait’ after finally clinching his first Badminton crown.

Entering a sun-kissed Gloucestershire arena, the 55-year-old Kiwi kept his cool to go clear in the show jumping stage to secure the title.

Badminton had always proved elusive throughout Nicholson’s illustrious career and when overnight leader Ingrid Klimke picked up 16 jumping faults and seven time penalties on Horseware Hale Bob Old, with second-placed Michael Jung having already picked up four jumping penalties, the New Zealand rider was crowned champion.

“Nereo is an unbelievable horse,” said Nicholson.

“The amount of big, big events he has done for a big strong horse, year after year is unbelievable.

“Today, the ground was good. My plan was to try and go into the show-jumping in the lead and I was thinking in my mind that I would rather go in close behind Michy (Michael Jung) and Ingrid (Klimke).

“I thought I cut it a little bit too fine when I was slipping at the end but I was quite happy to be in third.

“It’s been worth the wait.

“The feeling, it’s not like the feeling when I have won Burghley. I go to the big event nowadays if I have a live chance and I want to win it.

“Then if you haven’t done enough to win it, you’re not flat, you feel like you’ve done what you’re meant to do.

“I have come here with that idea and the feeling is 100 times better than that.”

Meanwhile, Nicholson was joined on the podium by fellow New Zealand and Marlborough-based rider Tim Price, who secured third place on Xavier Faer with a clean round in the show-jumping, having climbed from 34th place after the dressage stage.

“It’s great fun to have a climb,” he said.

“It’s more about the demonstration of the horse and the future will be more convincing but what a great horse.

“He is an athlete through and through and the flat work is always the last thing to come.

“The flat work is always the last thing to come.

“He jumped brilliantly and I am super chuffed with that result.”

Wanborough-based Kiwi Mark Todd had two horses inside the top six as NZB Campino finished fifth with a clear show-jumping round inside the time, and Leonidas II coming sixth with another faultless final round.

Nicholson’s second horse in the competition, Qwanza, finished 12th, climbing from 64th place after the dressage round, with one rail down in the show-jumping.

Stockley-based Astier Nicholas fell two places to 14th on the final day with two fences down, while Great Somerford’s Beanie Sturgis and Lebowski climbed six places to 23rd with one rail down and two time penalties.

The last of the Wiltshire contingent to make it to the final day, Baydon-based Brazilian Marcio Jorge fell to 30th place with 20 jumping penalties.