Equestrianism: Cove inquiry centre stage

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The Independent Online
BOARD MEMBERS of the British Horse Trials Association were in conference for hours here yesterday afternoon as the inquiry into the Coral Cove positive dope test case reached its final stages.

Bill Henson, a member of the board and director of the Bramham Horse and Hound International Horse Trials, emerged to say: "I am absolutely amazed by what I've learnt today. I am shattered at what has gone on in horse trials." A long-awaited statement was due to be made yesterday evening.

Polly Phillipps, the rider of Coral Cove, would have liked an inquiry to have been held in December, after the news that the horse's second urine sample, taken at last year's World Equestrian Games, had tested positive to salicylic acid at a level above the permitted threshold.

"We've lost a lot of business," Phillipps said of her own veterinary practice and her husband's horse-dealing business. "It seems cruel that we have taken all the flak for it when we have done nothing wrong." Phillipps, who is lying eighth with Coral Cove after yesterday's dressage test, expected her name to be cleared when the statement eventually emerged.

Meanwhile, Blyth Tait retained his overnight lead on Welton Envoy after the dressage phase. The New Zealander also moved into fifth place with last year's Burghley winner Chesterfield, who has had a troublesome year so far.

Chesterfield was withdrawn before the dressage at Badminton last month suffering from whiplash. A couple of weeks later he bashed his head on a fence at Chatsworth and had to have stitches.

Pippa Funnell, who retained second place on Rainbow Magic, is now ahead of Leslie Law, whose test on Shear H20 was the best that was achieved yesterday, earning praise for Chris Bartle who has been a "tremendous help" in improving Shear H20's dressage - so much so that the horse is now ahead of Bartle's own mount, Oscar, who is lying sixth.

BRAMHAM HORSE AND HOUND INTERNATIONAL THREE-DAY EVENT (Wetherby, Yorks) After dressage: 1 Welton Envoy (B Tait, NZ) 62 penalties; 2 Rainbow Magic (P Funnell, GB) 66; 3 Shear H20 (L Law, GB) 74; 4 Just a Mission (M Todd, NZ) 75; 5 Chesterfield (B Tait, NZ) 76; 6 Oscar (C Bartle, GB) 79.