Equestrianism: Hoy sets course for Sydney

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ANDREW HOY and Bettina Overesch, who are based together at Gatcombe, completely dominated yesterday's PERA Pre-Badminton Dressage and Show Jumping Challenge by filling the top three places at the Grange Farm Equestrian Centre here.

Hoy, from Australia, won on Swizzle In and finished third on Darien Powers. Overesch, the European champion from Germany, was runner-up on Watermill Stream - the only one of the top three horses due to compete at Badminton next month.

"It would be my desire to ride at Badminton, but I don't feel it would be the best programme for the horses," Hoy said. Having won two Olympic team gold medals, his sights are set on riding both mounts next year at the Sydney Games, where there will be separate team and individual contests.

Not only did the two riders prove the value of their dressage lessons in Germany with the Olympic rider, Klaus Balkenhol, they also jumped three of only six clear rounds over a difficult show jumping track. Mark Todd, who has announced his decision to retire from eventing at the end of next year, was also clear to finish fourth on Regal Scot - one of his possible Olympic prospects.

Blyth Tait, who had led for most of the day until relegated to fifth place on his Burghley winner, Chesterfield, had another eventful ride with Ready Teddy, with whom he holds the Olympic and world titles. "Ted was very full of himself," Tait said after his 24 show jumping penalties.

This was Ready Teddy's third mishap of the year - "I fell off him at Gatcombe and got stuck on a log in the water jump at Rolleston," Tait said. The rider is nevertheless hoping that this augurs well for Badminton, where the horse fell last year after three wins in his preparatory outings.

Results, Digest, page 25