Equestrianism: King Basil not faulty

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MARY THOMSON and her seven- year-old partner, King Basil, held the lead after the first day of dressage for the Brittany Ferries three- day event yesterday.

The young horse produced a good test despite ground that had become sticky in places as it dried up after recent heavy rain. 'He is helped by having nice natural movement and a calm temperament,' Thomson said.

Basil had unseated Thomson when he stumbled on landing in water at Windsor in May, but he has since jumped six clear rounds in open intermediate classes at one- day events. Thomson believes that tomorrow's cross-country course, built in beautiful parkland, should suit this good young horse.

At present, the British rider leads from Italy's Lara Villata on A Midnight Venture and Ireland's Shirley Buckley on Santa Labra.

However, these placings could change today when the top two riders in this year's European championships - France's Jean- Lou Bigot and Britain's Kristina Gifford - ride their dressage tests.

This event - the last in Europe this year - has attracted a big field which includes 13 from Britain. Jemima Johnson, equal seventh on Twelve Bore, and Karen Dixon, lying ninth on Too Smart - are within five points of Thomson.

Ian Stark's six-year-old mount, Mr Mackinnon, who is competing in his first three-day event, found the surroundings far too exciting to concentrate on dressage, and is now 24.6pts behind the leader.

BRITTANY FERRIES THREE-DAY EVENT (le Lion d'Angers, France) Standings after first day of dressage: 1 King Basil (M Thomson, GB) 53.8 penalties; 2 A Midnight Venture (L Villata, It) 56.6; 3 Santa Labra (S Buckley, Irl) 56.8. Other GB: 7= Twelve Bore (J Johnson) 58.2; 9 Too Smart (K Dixon) 59.2; 16 Highland Glen (P Lyon) 63.0.