EQUESTRIANISM: British selectors faced with Stark reality

IAN STARK has followed the rest of his victorious team-mates in last year's European Open Championships out of contention for the World Equestrian Games, that will be held in Italy in October.

Stark had looked certain to be chosen with Saucy Brown, who was fourth in Kentucky in April. But when the team vet, Andy Bathe, scanned the horse at Henbury on Friday (after he had performed a good dressage test) he found there was a problem resulting from a bump on his leg a few days earlier.

So Stark drove straight home to the Scottish Borders, leaving the selectors to contemplate their seriously depleted short-list from which Christopher Bartle, on Word Perfect, and William Fox-Pitt, on Cosmopolitan, had been withdrawn earlier. Fortunately Karen Dixon, who has ridden in three Olympics and two World Games, seems back to her best after breaking her leg just over a year ago.

Dixon was not in any great hurry when she rode Too Smart into third in the GE Capital Advanced Trial, that incorporated the final trial for those on the British short-list from which a squad of six will be named. The class was won by Merran Wallis from Australia.