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Nicholas a 1st at Badminton
Badminton, Glos., England
Photo: Anthony Trollope/StockImageServices.com

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Nicolas Touzaint (FRA) and Hildago De L'Ile
French phenomenon Nicolas Touzaint became the first Frenchman ever to win The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials. Tears of both relief and disbelief flowed down his face as he and Hildago De L'Ile performed several fast victory laps and the French National Anthem was played here for the first time. "Just to compete at Badminton is a dream and I never for one moment imagined I could win - although I had hoped to finish in the top five," said Nicolas. "Many have doubted this horse but now he is a true Champion."

Just as Saturday's cross country, show jumping proved equally influential - prior to the top ten Mary King and Imperial Cavalier was the only combination to have jumped clear without time penalties over Jon Doney's course. Former British team members Sharon Hunt and Tankers Town in eighth place after cross country really put the pressure on the top after the pair jumped clear - immediately followed by the New Zealand combination of Caroline Powell and the feisty grey Lenamore. Oliver Townend (GBR) and Georgie Davies (GBR) both dropped out of contention with three fences down a piece while fourth placed William Fox-Pitt and Ballincoola added just four faults to their score sheet.

For British rider Lucy Wiegersma and Shaabrak it was so close. The Devonshire based combination had an early four faults and the capacity crowd held their breath as she negotiated the remaining fences - holding her nerve to leave them standing. The four faults gave Nicolas Touzaint a margin for error which he used at the final element of the treble combination. Determination was written over the 27-year-old's face as he practically lifted Hildago over the fences. While the 13-year old Selle Francais began to flatten down the final line a supreme effort over the last left them with just the four faults on their card to finish just 1.4 penalties ahead of Lucy and Shaabrak. "When I had the third fence down I really thought that was it - there is still quite a way to go at that stage and I was surprised at how tacky the ground was," said Lucy, "But I am delighted with him he has jumped his heart out."

After a dressage test that left them in 17th place William Fox-Pitt was delighted to find himself in the top three with Ballincoola.


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