ANDREW Nicholson described trustworthy gelding Nereo as a ‘pleasure to work with’ after announcing his retirement at Badminton on Sunday.

Nicholson, who teamed up with Nereo to win Badminton 12 months ago, was forced to withdraw his 18-year-old mount on Sunday morning prior to the final showjumping round.

It marked the end of an era for the Marlborough-based horseman, who has partnered Nereo at 106 events since making his debut at Goring Heath in 2005.

Nicholson said: “He wasn’t 100 per cent right, there was not much point in carrying on.

“Nereo is a tough horse and there was something amiss. But he’s good now, however he has to be good at the time.”

The New Zealander revealed his daughter Lily will now take charge of Nereo, gently exercising him while he enjoys the pick of the grass during free time.

Nicholson quashed calls for Nereo to be dropped in class – as opposed to retirement – as he explained the horse belongs in eventing’s top tier.

“He’ll start being gently exercised by my daughter now, but it was our plan to retire him after this weekend,” said Nicholson.

“A lot of people think we should drop him down a grade but Nereo isn’t about that.

“He’s been competing at the top level for a very long time and that’s where he belongs.

“From here if he wants to be worked we’ll allow him to do that and if he’d be happier in a field then that can happen too. It’s a pleasure to have him and look after him.”

During his 13-year career, Nereo amassed 3098 points and won 17 events.

But winning Badminton in 2017 stands out as one of Nicholson’s greatest days in the sport.

He said: “Winning Badminton last year was probably my proudest day.

“He performed well on Saturday on the cross-country course, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it felt like he did too.

“It would’ve been nice to finish the competition with a clear round, but it wasn’t to be.

“I have another competition to prepare for this weekend, so we’ll carry on.

“We have some nice young horses available, though admittedly we have cut down in recent years.”