Equestrianism: Cloud over competition

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Torrential overnight rain caused the cancellation of yesterday's first leg of the European Show Jumping Championships and has put the whole competition in jeopardy.

It is still hoped to run a reduced contest, with a two-round competition deciding the team title today or tomorrow followed by the individual championship on Sunday. Fine weather has been forecast for the next three days, but it remains to be seen whether the accumulated rain water can drain away in time.

Paul Weier, the course designer, said the short-rooted grass preferred by those who use the ground as a football stadium is unsuitable for show jumping. Long roots would have withstood the pounding of hooves much better in wet weather.

Ronnie Massarella, Britain's team manager, thinks it highly unlikely that jumping will be possible today. "I was standing on one part of the arena with Eddie Macken and we were both in above our ankles," he said.