Equestrianism: Dixon returns to form with Too Smart

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The Independent Online
KAREN DIXON, who achieved her "best test ever" with Too Smart yesterday, holds the lead after the first day of dressage at the Pedigree Chum Horse Trials here. The 13-year-old gelding, who can be explosive, was soft and co-operative as he showed off his lovely paces to their best advantage.

Dixon, who gave birth to a son in March, had a horrible fall at Bramham in June when she punctured a lung, broke her shoulder and cracked three ribs. Having since had good runs at Thirlestane Castle and Henbury, she says that she is ready to tackle the demanding cross-country track here tomorrow.

Mark Todd, the winner at Gatcombe and the runner-up at Badminton this year, was first into the arena yesterday. The New Zealander is now lying second with Word for Word, followed by Charlotte Bathe and The Irish One.

Mary King on King Solomon III shares fourth place with New Zealand's Catriona McLeod on Win for Me. King felt that her mount might have benefited from a little more atmosphere as his test was "a bit flat".

Dixon, who has ridden in the last three Olympic Games and now has her sights set on Sydney next year, is planning to take all the fast routes in the cross country - "I'll have to if I want to stay ahead of Toddy". She is well aware of the need for accuracy at the two technical obstacles - the Arena Corners and The Maltings - and the need to set her horse up for the three consecutive water obstacles.

Todd described the course as big and challenging. "He's been very clever at slowing us down and it's going to be hard to get inside the time, but it should suit Word for Word."

Results, Digest, page 27