Blenheim's new order

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The Blenheim Horse Trials break new ground this week, by becoming the first three-day event to run the cross-country phase in the reverse order of merit. Mark Phillips has used this formula effectively for the British Open Championship at Gatcombe, where the show jumping phase precedes the cross-country.

At Gatcombe, however, the score needed for victory is known, whereas at Blenheim it will be the score required to hold the lead before the final show jumping. It remains to be seen if this will be quite as gripping.

Mary King, who was first and second in the British Open with King William and King Solomon III, will be riding the latter at Blenheim. The eight- year-old has shown enormous promise but this will be his first test over a three-star cross-country course.

Solomon was due to tackle the Bramham course in June, but was withdrawn after the dressage because of a respiratory infection. Fortunes have since changed for King, whose post-Olympic victories include the Scottish Championship and Burghley Three-Day Event as well as the British Open.

Pippa Funnell, who won at Blenheim last year on Bits and Pieces will be aiming for the double on The Tourmaline Rose.