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Equestrianism: Lampard in line for British team place

THE BRITISH always send a strong team to Ireland for the Kerrygold Dublin Horse Show, but this year they have exceeded expectations by sending the creme de la creme. All the leading riders will be competing with their best horses at the annual five-day fixture, which begins this morning in its spacious Ballsbridge home.

Included are the four already named in the squad of five for this month's European Show Jumping Championships at Hickstead: John and Michael Whitaker, Nick Skelton and Robert Smith. The fifth squad member looks certain to come from one of the remaining trio of Di Lampard and Tim Stockdale - who are both expected to jump in Friday's Nations Cup - and Geoff Billington, who will compete in Sunday's Grand Prix on Virtual Village It's Otto.

Lampard must be prime contender for the remaining place. Her Irish-bred mount, Abbervail Dream, had not hit his best form this year until winning the Cock O' the North Championship at Harrogate on 15 July. If she can reproduce that form, Lampard's place will be safe.

Hopes are High has been resting since his victory at Hickstead on 11 July. Also back from a similar break are Michael Whitaker's best partners, Calvaro and Ashley.

Others have been proving their well-being. John Whitaker's Flower and Robert Smith's Senator Almare both won at the New Forest Show last week. Another of Smith's mounts, Tees Hanauer, won Sunday's Dun Loaghaire Grand Prix.

Stockdale received a boost in April when he was given the ride on Traxdata Wiston Bridget, who has yet to be tested in a Nations Cup. If the nine- year-old mare makes a successful debut for the British team on Friday, Stockdale's career will have taken another forward leap.