ANDREW Nicholson’s bid to claim a CIC*** class victory at the Barbury Horse Trials for the sixth year in succession came up just short after he had to settle for a double runners-up finish today.

New Zealand’s Nicholson and his Badminton winner Nereo were pipped to top spot in the headline ERM class by Frenchman Thomas Carlile and Upsilon, with the Marlborough-based eventer and Swallow Springs having earlier finished second in the CIC*** B category behind William Fox-Pitt and Clifton Signature.

Sir Mark Todd made it two Wiltshire Kiwis on the podium in the ERM section as he finished third on Leonidas II.

With Carlile having set the pace throughout after a record dressage score of 30.9 on Saturday, Nicholson knew he would also be up against to repeat his ERM success of 12 months ago.

“The cross-country went very well. I thought Nereo did a great job, I tried to ride him in a nice rhythm,” said the 55-year-old.

“I thought there is no good me scorching around, Thomas is a very good rider on a very good horse and he will be listening to the commentary and know what speed he has to do. I thought as long as I can keep up in second place, that will be good.

“I was disappointed in the course this year. It was far too soft and became more of a foot race. Perhaps others would disagree but to me, it needs more jumping.”

Victor Carlile said: “All my words go to my horse. He is so special, I just try to sit on him, not bother him and let him get on with his business. He is a class act.

“He is on form, since the beginning of the season he has matured. His dressage score was pretty good, his show jumping is usually spotless and his cross-county he is getting a bit faster. Hopefully there is a lot more to come from him.”

Earlier in the day, Fox-Pitt and Clifton Signature’s success in the CIC*** B class came in just their second event together.

The three-time Olympic medallist had been lying second after the show jumping phase but was bumped to the top after leader Tina Cook and Billy The Red withdrew ahead of the cross-country.

Fox-Pitt then had to watch as Nicholson’s Swallow Springs and fellow top-five rider top-five rider Oliver Townend, on Noteworthy, went clear but the 48-year-old’s small time fault of 1.6 was enough to keep them top of the pile.

“I did not expect to be getting a prize here, let alone winning. That’s a bit of a shock,” said Fox-Pitt.

“Going in reverse order, you know what’s been done, so I knew Oliver and Andrew had done the time and I was thinking: ‘I’m not going to do the time, so how close can I get?’ “Luckily, I got close enough to give us a very happy day and I am thrilled.”