Equestrianism: Keystone reigns in rain

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The Independent Online
Suzanne Davies and Darren Mattia's wonderfully equable 10-year- old, Keystone Favoriet, produced an excellent dressage test in drenching rain yesterday at Stoneleigh when winning the Intermediaire II section of the National Dressage Championships.

Last year, the liver chestnut stallion won the Intermediaire I title. Having progressed to an Intermediaire II victory this time, Davies plans to take another step up the ladder by returning for the Grand Prix next year.

"He's so reliable, nothing distracts him," Davies said of the stallion, who show jumped in Denmark before he began his dressage career. Yesterday, Davies defeated Anni Macdonald-Hall on eight-year-old Hansel, who belongs to her friend Melissa Wright and will probably be ridden by the owner next year.

Macdonald-Hall had wret-ched luck with her own horse, Invincible, whose concentration was understandably deflected when a loose horse began racing round the adjacent warm-up area. Other horses added to the disturbance by rearing, plunging and neighing. Even the unflappable Keystone Favoriet might have found it quite exciting.

Invincible looked close to boiling over. "I was concentrating on keeping him in the arena, I couldn't really ask for anything more," Macdonald- Hall said, after the talented dark bay seven-year-old had finished a disappointing ninth.

The Preliminary Championship was won by James Burtwell, riding a dark bay four-year-old called Wellington Leopold, who achieved a remarkable score of 71.94 per cent. Burtwell will be aiming to prove that this was no flash in the pan today, when he rides the youngster in the four-year- old section of the Dressage Horse Futurity class.