Kiwi equestrian Andrew Nicholson has netted the US$50,000 bonus as the HSBC Rankings leader at the end of the 2012 season, after holding on to the No 1 spot since claiming team bronze at the London Olympics.

The 51-year-old kicked off the year by finishing seventh at the Kentucky Three-Day Event, the third leg of the HSBC FEI Classics 2011/2012 series and then secured fourth at the following leg, the Luhmuhlen CCI4*.

He went on to captain the New Zealand bronze medal team at London, his sixth Olympic Games, finishing fourth individually with Nereo.

Just one month later he rode Avebury to a third victory in 17 years at the Burghley Horse Trials.


He then won the opening leg of the new series at Les Etoiles de Pau (FRA), again on Libby Sellars' Nereo, sealing his lead in the rankings by a comfortable margin over Olympic team silver medallist, William Fox-Pitt of Great Britain.

Nicholson first went to England as a 19-year-old to work with racehorses. His first CCI4* event was Badminton in 1984, earning him a place on the New Zealand Olympic team at the Los Angeles Olympics.

He has ridden at a further five Olympic Games since then, winning team silver in 1992 and team bronzes in 1996 and 2012.

He also won team gold at the 1990 FEI World Equestrian Games on Spinning Rhombus, and team and individual bronze at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in 2010, again on Nereo.

"It is a fantastic feeling ending 2012 as leader of the HSBC Rankings,'' he said. "I've been close for the last two years, but this year has been exceptional for me. I worked hard on my fitness last winter and this put me on top form for the season. I've also been extremely lucky with my horses Nereo, Mr Cruise Control, Calico Joe, Avebury and Qwanza.''