Equestrianism: Britain looking to Leng

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The Independent Online
VIRGINIA LENG and her winning Badminton partner, Welton Houdini, were obvious choices for the British team to contest the European Three-Day Event Championship at Achselschwang in Germany from 9 to 12 September. Leng, seeking a record fourth individual title, was named for the team yesterday with Charlotte Bathe, Karen Dixon and William Fox-Pitt.

Dixon's selection had been in doubt after her Olympic partner, Get Smart, fell at Gatcombe 11 days ago, injuring an elbow. The gelding was fit and sound for yesterday's horse inspection at Thirlestane Castle, but did not compete in the final trial there.

The selectors have asked Dixon to ride Get Smart at the Ickworth Park Horse Trials in Suffolk next Sunday. Assuming that the horse shows no ill-effects after the competition, Dixon will be on the team.

Bathe (nee Hollingsworth) had looked a strong contender after riding The Cool Customer to victory at Burghley last year and she confirmed that form when eighth at Badminton in May. Fox-Pitt proved his talent when seventh at Badminton on Chaka. Helen Bell and Nick Burton (son of England's former rugby international, Mike Burton) will compete as individuals. Kristina Gifford, named as reserve, will only join them in training if one of the six is forced to pull out. Otherwise the daughter of racehorse trainer, Josh Gifford, will be part of the home team for next week's Burghley Three-Day Event.

Gifford and her team-mates, Lynne Bevan, Andrew Harris and Tanya Cleverly, face a sterner test at Burghley where they face Australia, New Zealand and the United States. All three countries look stronger than Britain's opponents in Germany.

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