Jared Savage is the New Zealand Herald's investigations editor.

Equestrian: NZ duo in contention at Badminton

Two New Zealand riders are among the leaders going into the final day of the Badminton horse trials.

Jonathan "Jock" Paget sits in second place and Andrew Nicholson is fourth after completing the gruelling cross-country course overnight.

Michael Jung - the current Olympic, World and European champion - is leading in his first ever attempt at the three-day event.

Nicholson's bitter rival William Fox-Pitt is just 0.2 points ahead of him in third to set up a thrilling finish with the show jumping to begin tonight.

The pair is chasing a rare 'Grand Slam' of blue chip events after Nicholson recently won at Burghley and Kentucky, while organisers also gave Fox-Pitt the chance to win the US$350,000 prize after his bid was foiled last year when the event was washed out.

The 'Grand Slam' has only been achieved once before by Pippa Funnell.

Nicholson has never won at Badminton, considered the pinnacle of the sport.

Paget, on Clifton Promise, and Nicholson, on Nereo, each managed to complete the cross-country course without incurring any time or jump penalties.

Both men also hold other positions in the top 15 on different horses. Nicholson is 8th with Avebury and Paget is 14th on Clifton Lush.

Caroline Powell sits in 30th and 35th positions with Onwards and Upwards and Boston Two Tip respectively. She also completed the course both times without incurring any penalties.

Lucy Jackson, on Animator, lies in 42nd spot ahead of Sir Mark Todd, on Major Milestone, who is 50th.

Sir Mark, a four time Badminton winner, is also ranked 60th on Ravenstar.

Michael Jung (GER)- 36 penalties
Jock Paget (NZL)- 39.7 penalties
William Fox-Pitt (GBR)- 40.0 penalties
Andrew Nicholson (NZL)- 40.2 penalties
Sandra Auffarth (GER)- 41.3 penalties

- NZ Herald

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