Equestrianism: Custom Made makes mark

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The Independent Online
David O'Connor made a satisfactory start to the Badminton Horse Trials on Custom Made, with whom he was leading after the dressage here last year before finishing the contest in third place.

This time the US rider shares the lead at the end of the first day of dressage with Linda Algotsson, a 25-year-old maths teacher from Sweden.

This is Algotsson's first appearance at Badminton, but she shows no signs of being over-awed by the big occasion. She intends to take all the quick routes on 16-year-old Lafayett when she tackles the cross-country tomorrow.

O'Connor's Irish-bred mount became a little excited yesterday before the second flying change, a new movement in three-day event dressage which requires the horse to change his leading leg at canter without coming back to trot. Custom Made was otherwise polished and responsive to his rider.

Paddy Muir is lying third and best of the British on her grey gelding, Archie Brown, who finished ninth here last year. Close behind comes Daisy Dick, (the 25-year-old daughter of former Grand National winner, Dave Dick) on Headley Bravo.

New Zealand's Olympic champion, Blyth Tait, is lying equal seventh on Chesterfield despite the horse making a few errors through being tense. Like everyone else, Tait is pleased with the going that has been greatly improved by the use of an aerator, which provided holes for the recent rain to drain into firm ground.

Both Leslie Law on Capitano (now 38th) and Ian Stark on Arakai (26th) had disappointing tests, but they each have another chance when they ride their second horses today.

MITSUBISHI MOTORS BADMINTON HORSE TRIALS Standings after first day of dressage: 1 Lafayett (L Algotsson, Swe) and Custom Made (D O'Connor, US) 48.6; 3 Archie Brown (P Muir, GB) 49.4; 4 Headley Bravo (D Dick, GB) 49.6; 5 Darien Powers (A Hoy, Aus) 52.0; 6 Beta (T Collins, Ber) 53.4.

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