Jonathan Paget has followed in the footprints of New Zealand eventing great Sir Mark Todd by winning the Badminton Horse Trials in his first appearance.
Former brick layer Paget stole victory in the showjumping where he produced a clear round riding Clifton Promise before German leader Michael Jung knocked off his final rail, ending the three-day event on a dramatic note.
World No.4 ranked eventer Paget, 29, becomes just the second New Zealander to win the famous four-star event after four-time champion Todd, who was also the defending champion after winning in Gloucestershire in 2011.
Paget is the second rider to win on debut, also following Todd, who triumphed on Southern Comfort II in 1980.
Compatriot Andrew Nicholson finished third on Nereo, just 0.5 penalty points behind Paget after also jumping clear. He missed out on securing a "grand slam" of four-star eventing titles after winning in Burgley last year and at Kentucky last month.
Before competition began, Paget's hopes rested on a second vet check. Sitting in second place after the cross-country phase, Promise was held by the ground jury at the final horse inspection and had to be re-presented before being cleared to jump.
He regathered his thoughts for the showjumping.
"I was just thinking one fence at a time," he said.
"I came here knowing I had two great horses and that I could win ... both horses did everything I asked of them and that was enough."
He and the New Zealand contingent couldn't bring themselves to watch world and Olympic champion Jung's round and when a cheer went up at the finish they believed the German had won. However, it was followed quickly by a groan.
Paget finished 39.7 penalty points, which was his dressage score, Jung adding four faults to finish on 40 and world No.1 Nicholson on 40.2.
A member of the London Olympic bronze medal-winning team, Paget has climbed steadily to his No.4 world perch.
He was second at the four star in Pau last year and sixth at Kentucky. He also spent some time this past winter at Jung's German stable.
Equestrian Sports New Zealand high performance coach Erik Duvander wasn't surprised to see Paget land one of the sport's premier prizes.
"I believed strongly that Jock could win - they've come into the competition with the horse in top form and I never doubted he could pull it off," he said.
"Many say they would rather win Badminton than the Olympics ... in the eventing world, Badminton is the glory one to win."
Nicholson was also 11th on his second horse, Avebury, with Paget 14th on Clifton Lush.
Caroline Powell was 21st on Onwards and Upwards and 33rd on Boston Two Tip.
Todd finished a low-key week 48th on Major Milestone while Ravenstar was withdrawn before showjumping.
source: newshub archive