Nicholson wins third Burghley title

New Zealand rider Andrew Nicholson has won his third Burghley horse trials title in England on Avebury.

Nicholson, 51, a team bronze medallist at the London Olympics, won the prestigious event by just 2.5 penalty points from overnight leader Sinead Halpin of the United States.

Avebury, a 12-year-old grey gelding, who was lying second after the cross country phase, took down one rail in the showjumping while Halpin's Manoir de Carneville downed three rails.

"I came here expecting to do well and Avebury has been on good form all year, so knew we had a chance," Nicholson said.

The England-based rider, who was second last year, won Burghley in 1995 on Buckley Province and 2000 on Mr Smiffy.

"It actually feels more like 20 years since I last won! Burghley is my favourite event to ride at and Avebury is a joy to ride," he said.

Nicholson pockets STG55,000 ($NZ108,700) as the winner, as well as another $US75,000 ($NZ93,400) as the runner-up in the lucrative HSBC Classics Series which William Fox-Pitt won by a single point.

Nicholson was 13th on his other horse Calico Joe. Among the other New Zealanders contesting Burghley, Jonathan Paget and Clifton Lush finished fifth, Mark Todd and Major Milestone 12th, Caroline Powell and Boston Two Tip 14th, and Lucy Jackson and Willy Do 19th.

Todd was a little disappointed not to finish in the top 10 with Major Milestone.

"His rail today was just his second ever with me," he said.

"But he was superb on the cross country. The showjumping was certainly influential today those rails seemed to fall quite easily."

Clear rounds in the showjumping were scarce, with just four of the 53 combinations left in the event going clear and inside time.

Equestrian Sports New Zealand high performance coach Erik Duvander described Nicholson's win as magnificent.

"Both horse and rider deserve that win."