Equestrianism: American prospers from slip by rival

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The Independent Online
David O'Connor became only the second American rider to win the Badminton Horse Trials when he received the Mitsubishi Trophy yesterday after the final show jumping phase. While he moved up from overnight second on Custom Made to win the big prize, the unfortunate Ian Stark plunged from first to 13th with Stanwick Ghost's five show jumping errors.

Mary King, who progressed from third to runner-up on Star Appeal despite one error, knew how Stark felt. She has been there before with King William who, like Stanwick Ghost, is brilliant at dressage and cross-country but completely loses concentration in the show jumping. "It's a desperate feeling, my heart went out to Ian," King said.

O'Connor and his Irish-bred mount, Custom Made, proved to be accomplished in all three departments of the event, following an excellent dressage with clear rounds in the cross-country and show jumping which were, in both cases, just one second over the optimum time. The horse will now remain in England to await the European Open Championships at Burghley in September, while O'Connor flies home to Virginia.

William Fox-Pitt, who was disappointed with the marks that left him 14th after the dressage on Cosmopolitan II, incurred no further penalties. He moved up to seventh after the cross-country, then to sixth when Australia's Andrew Hoy had to withdraw Darien Powers - fourth at the time - because the horse was lame. After his clear show jumping round, Fox-Pitt claimed the third prize.

The British selectors must have been pleased. In addition to King and Fox-Pitt in second and third places, there were splendid performances from Daisy Dick, who finished seventh on Headley Bravo, and Pippa Funnell who was ninth on the athletic little skewbald Bits and Pieces.

Although Stanwick Ghost disappointed in the end, Stark's new mount (the New Zealand-bred Arakai ) looked full of promise when finishing 14th - one place behind his stable-companion. Arakai's dressage will surely improve when Stark has more time to work on it.

MITSUBISHI MOTORS BADMINTON HORSE TRIALS: Final results: 1 Custom Made (D O'Connor, US) 49.25 penalties; 2 Star Appeal (M King, GB) 55.0; 3 Cosmopolitan II (W Fox-Pitt, GB) 55.6; 4 Chesterfield (B Tait, NZ) 56.2; 5 Lafayett (L Algotsson, Swe) 57.2; 6 Squirrel Hill (S Clark, NZ) 61.4; 7 Headley Bravo (D Dick, GB) 62.0; 8 Eagle Lion (B Davidson, US) 64.2; 9 Bits and Pieces (P Funnell, GB) 65.0; 10 Bounce (V Jefferis, NZ) 65.2. Land Rover FEI World Three-Day Event: Rankings: 1 M King (GB) 162pts; 2 D O'Connor (US) 154; 3 M Weissbecker (US) 107.

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