ANDREW Nicholson has become a name as synonymous with Barbury Horse Trials as strawberries have with cream or bread with butter.

Having won for five years on the bounce with his horse Avebury, who retired last April before being put down in the Autumn, the Marlborough-based New Zealander was back at his local event last year to clinch victory in the Event Rider Masters class on Nereo.

And it is those two horses that helped the 55-year-old not only recover from a neck injury that would have left 98 per cent of cases with paralysis, but return to the pinnacle of his sport.

Nicholson returns to Barbury on July 6 with Nereo, who he finally broke his Badminton Horse Trials duck with last month, for the ERM series, and will be looking to maintain his stranglehold on the event.

“It was very important. Badminton amongst riders and competitors is the mecca of the eventing world and to have finally won it, with a horse that I have had for an awful long time and won a lot of events on, it is unbelievable, the feeling of it,”

“I was left wondering if I would be able to ride to that level again, let alone win it. It’s quite something.

“It was very important that when I started competing again, I had good horses and horses that I had trust in.

“Your mind is a pretty strong thing and luckily I was in a very positive frame of mind but it also helped that I had the likes of Nereo and Avebury to get back to my first competitions on.

“They are not your average horses, they are very talented and very classy and I had had them for a long, long time. It certainly made that side of things much easier.

“I’m very, very lucky. I feel very good.

“The horses are very good and with this sunshine we have got at the moment, how can you not feel good?”

Barbury was the first event that Nereo won as a five-year-old and as a result, Nicholson has been keen to take his younger horses to the event and this season is no different.

Qwanza, who came 12th at Badminton, will go in the two star event along with Yacabo BK, with Byrnesgrove First Diamond, who finished ninth at Bramham, and Swallow Springs competing in the three star and As Is and Andrea in the novice class.