Equestrianism: First Six takes shape

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The Independent Online
Mary King and William Fox-Pitt were automatic choices for the First Six in the British squad that contests next month's European Open Three-Day Event Championships at the Burghley Horse Trials in Lincolnshire.

King on Star Appeal, last year's Burghley winner, and Fox-Pitt on Cosmopolitan II had already reserved their places when finishing second and third at Badminton in May. Barring accidents, they are bound to be among the four British team members to be named after the first horse inspection on 10 September.

The team will be chosen from the First Six on the squad, which was announced yesterday. It also includes Ian Stark, who has represented Britain in the last four Olympic Games, Kristina Gifford, Anne-Marie Evans and Christopher Bartle.

Bartle is dressage trainer for the three-day event team and has not yet ridden for a championship three-day event team, but now has his chance with the nine-year-old Word Perfect II on whom he won the final trial at Thirlestane Castle on Sunday.

Gifford, a member of the winning team at the last European and World Championships, received a late call after some impressive performances in the summer with General Jock, fifth at Burghley last year.

Anne-Marie Evans, fifth in the 1986 World Championships, completes the First Six from which the two left out of the team will compete as individuals. The Second Six, chosen to fill the extra places available to the host country, will also be individual competitors.

BRITISH SENIOR SQUAD FOR EUROPEAN OPEN THREE-DAY EVENT CHAMPIONSHIPS (at Burghley Pedigree Chum Horse Trials, Lincs, 11-14 September): First Six: C Bartle (Word Perfect II), A-M Evans (Dutch Treat ), W Fox-Pitt (Cosmopolitan II), K Gifford (General Jock), M King (Star Appeal), I Stark (Arakai). Second Six: D Dick (Headley Bravo), P Funnell (Bits and Pieces), C Hunnable (Mr Bootsie), G Parsonage (Magic Rogue), P Phillips (Coral Cove), E Watson (Last of the Incas). Reserves: J-P Sheffield (Killcullen Bay), J Yeo (Bally Free).