MARLBOROUGH-based eventer Andrew Nicholson hopes Swallow Springs’ consistent performances this season can help earn another podium finish at the Barbury Horse Trials.

Nicholson will partner his 11-year-old gelding for the sixth time this season in the CCI 4* competition this weekend, with the trials themselves running from Thursday through until Sunday.

Unusually, the cross-country round marks the end of Barbury’s CCI 4* competition – unlike the traditional approach that sees dressage followed by cross-country and show jumping to round off proceedings.

For three-times Olympic medallist Nicholson, it means little in terms of changing Swallow Springs’ preparation ahead of the three-day event.

And following podium finishes at Tweseldown and Belton Park earlier in the season – coupled with a fifth-placed effort at Badminton – the 57-year-old New Zealander is confident his mount can deliver the goods on Barbury’s unique and undulating course.

Nicholson said: “Swallow Springs feels good and is ready to go. I’m looking forward to competing.

“Barbury is a beautiful estate and a good course with good ground. Barbury is a key part in the education for any horse – and Swallow Springs ahead of Burghley.

“He’s been going well this season. At Badminton, he competed well – and that’s been the case all year too.”

Nicholson will also be mounting rising stars Argentino and Andrea to compete in the CCI 3* category, while novices Dalton III, Damaso Monbeg Exclusive and Quimba compete at novice level.

For Nicholson, his two CCI 3* hopes stand out as genuine contenders for top honours.

And with one eye already on Burghley, Nicholson is already encouraged by his yard’s future.

He added: “You need that constant flow of novices coming through the ranks. I’ve got four out this weekend – they’re the future.

“Planning ahead is a key part of the sport, and so are my staff.

“They do a bit of everything – mucking out, brushing, riding and coming to events. There’s always plenty to do for them.

“Burghley is the next big one for me.

“But this weekend, we know the competition we’re going to come up against. There is always a quality field at Barbury – and the same applies for any other event.

“It’s hard to get a prize with such stiff competition.”

Other Wiltshire hopes competing this weekend include Chippenham-based Harry Meade, who will partner with Gideon in the CCI 3* event.

Laura Collett will be in action in the same category onboard Sir Papillon, in company with Badgerstown’s Sir Mark Todd and Cool Tide.

Tim and Jonelle Price are also heavily represented across the novice, CCI 3* and CCI 4* events – while Zara Tindall rides Watkins.