Custom Made makes running

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The Independent Online
David O'Connor held the lead for the United States when the first day of dressage for the Mitsubishi Badminton Horse Trials was completed yesterday. He is now hoping that his mount, Custom Made, can prove that last year's elimination in the show jumping at the European Open Championships in Italy was an uncharacteristic lapse.

Custom Made was one of the few to be on exemplary behaviour yesterday, when the canvas roof of the grandstand kept flapping noisily in the strong wind. O'Connor now holds the advantage over two British riders: Lucinda Murray on Just Jeremy and Helen Bell on Troubleshooter.

Murray missed Badminton last year, having broken her right shoulder blade and wrist in a fall. Later in the year she broke her collarbone ("into three bits'') and did not compete again until two months ago.

"I had to wait and see if I still had the courage to be competitive," Murray said. She did not, however, find herself wanting and is now looking forward to tackling Hugh Thomas's 30 solid cross-country fences tomorrow.

There will be a new British bid to host the 1998 World Equestrian Games (at either Harrogate or Stoneleigh) now that Ireland's last-ditch attempt to retain the event has failed after the withdrawal of Government funding. Germany will also be bidding for the Games.

MITSUBISHI BADMINTON HORSE TRIALS (Standings after first day of dressage): 1 Custom Made (D O'Connor, US) 40.4 penalties; 2 Just Jeremy II (L Murray, GB) 43.2; 3 Troubleshooter (H Bell, GB) 45.4; 4 Alater Pedis (M Ryan, Aus) 47.0; 5 Chesterfield (B Tait, NZ) 49.2; 6 Cornish Faer (K Parker, GB) 49.4.