Equestrianism: Get Smart consolidates Britain's excellent start

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The Independent Online
MARY THOMSON and Karen Dixon were lying first and equal second when the dressage phase of the three-day event was completed at the World Equestrian Games here yesterday. Thanks to their excellent tests, the British team holds the advantage over the United States and New Zealand as the 94 riders prepare for tomorrow's cross-country.

No one could equal Thomson's performance with King William, who was the overnight leader. The Frenchman, Jean Teulere on Rodosto, was the first of yesterday's contenders to achieve a score of less than 50 penalties. Dixon, who followed him on Get Smart, was concerned that the clapping and shouting from delighted French supporters might upset her long-standing partner. But, though briefly unsettled, Get Smart produced one of his best performances to equal the Frenchman's score.

The powerful New Zealanders were happy enough with their placings, but they know that tomorrow's cross-country is likely to bring a major reshuffle in the order. Blyth Tait, their defending individual champion, is now fifth on the mare Delta who retires to stud after the Games. Mark Todd is 11th (some 11 places higher than he was at Badminton) on Just an Ace.

The British women were in positive mood yesterday, although Charlotte Bathe had unhelpful distractions before her test on The Cool Customer. She had just 10 minutes left when officials decided that the logos on her saddle-cloth must be removed. The Frizzell logo of the British team was deemed too long, that of her own Puffa sponsors too deep.

Both had been sewn on by machine and there was no time to unpick the stitches, so a strip of sticking plaster was placed on one of them. It was too late to do anything about the other and, as it turned out, unnecessary. A rule allowing bigger logos came into effect on 1 July and Bathe's were within the new dimensions.

The Cool Customer does not normally shine at dressage, so his 31st place and his contribution to the team's lead was satisfactory.

Laura Fry, competing in 'pure' dressage in the main stadium, had the worst problem. Her horse, Quarryman, took objection to a crouching camerawoman and her gleaming equipment as she was waiting for the bell to signal the start of her test.

When Quarryman plunged past them, he scattered some of the white boards at the boundary of the arena. Thoroughly upset by that experience, he finished 29th of yesterday's 33 starters. In complete contrast the newcomer to the British team, Jane Bredin on Cupido, had their best-ever marks and are now lying 15th.

WORLD EQUESTRIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS (The Hague): Three-Day Event (standings after dressage): 1 King William (M Thomson, GB) 42.0; 2= Get Smart (K Dixon, GB) and Rodosto (J Teulere, Fr) 49.8; 4 Biko (K O'Conner, US) 50.0; 5 Delta (B Tait, NZ) 50.6; 6 Timothy (E Schless-Beine, Ger) 51.0. Other British: 21 Troubleshooter (H Bell) 56.4; 31 The Cool Customer (C Bathe) 58.6; 42 General Jock (K Gifford) 60.4; 79 Ghost Town (C Sizer) 69.0. Teams: 1 Great Britain 150.4; 2 USA 158.6; 3 New Zealand 159.4; 4 France 163.4; 5 Germany 166.2; 6 Australia 169.8. Dressage (standings after first day): 1 Rembrandt (N Uphoff- Becker) 1742pts; 2 Dondolo (S Rothenberger, Neth) 1693; 3 Heuriger (E Bontje, Neth) 1684. British: 15 Cupido (J Bredin) 1534; 29 Quarryman (L Fry) 1409.