Equestrianism: Davidson squelches rivals

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The American rider Bruce Davidson, the most experienced top- level eventer still competing, retained his lead after the speed and endurance phase at the Audi International Horse Trials yesterday, writes Mary Gordon Watson from Blenheim. Riding Squelch, an eight-year-old Kentucky-bred thoroughbred which finished third here last year for owner George Strawbridge, Davidson had an impressive round. They added just 5.2 time penalties to their leading dressage score, which gives the twice world champion an eight- point advantage over another ex-world champion, Blyth Tait. The New Zealander Tait recently took over the ride on the grey Ivor Chance. They added nothing to their dressage penalties. Rodney Powell, who won at Blenheim in 1992, is lying third on the promising Comic Relief, with six others following within five points - the cost of a single show jumping error today. Unfortunately the Australian, Matt Ryan, is not one of them. Second overnight, his horse Regal Style had to be withdrawn after the steeple chase following a nose bleed. The British riders Paddy Muir, riding Masy Brown, Lucinda Murray, on Manhattan M'Ghandi, and Karen Dixon, on Hot Property, are poised to benefit if the leaders make any mistakes today. In the European Young Riders Championship, preceding the international event, Great Britain established a 28.20- point lead over Germany, with Italy a close third.