Rotorua man to compete in top equestrian event

By, Gary Hamilton-Irvine

Rotorua's Craig Nicolai will compete at this year's world-famous Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials event, after missing out last year because of injury.

The four-star event is equivalent to a major in other sports, with the world's top equestrian riders attending.

The England-based rider is one of 86 qualifying for Burghley this year, held at Burghley Park in England from September 5 to September 8.

Nicolai, who is nicknamed the Lone Kiwi, has qualified each year since 2010 but was forced to pull out last year because his horse, Just Ironic, was injured.

Nicolai's mother Anne told The Daily Post her son was looking forward to the big event.

"He knows he has a hard road ahead, he is up against all the top riders," she said.

She said she and her husband, Hedde, would be travelling to the event for the first time next month to watch their son compete.

Anne said her son was a brilliant cross country rider but he often struggled with the dressage discipline, which he hoped to improve on during this event.

"He is a typical Kiwi," she said. "He is a brilliant cross country rider."

Anne said her son was known as the Lone Kiwi in England because he did almost everything on his own, including funding his events and preparing his horse before competitions.

The Burghley competition is made up of three disciplines - the dressage, cross country and show jumping - with points in each discipline added together for a final score. New Zealand Olympian Sir Mark Todd will also be competing. He has won the event on four occasions since 1987.

The reigning champion is also a New Zealand Olympian, Te Awamutu's Andrew Nicholson. Burghley has been held since 1961.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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