Equestrianism: Loheit enjoys her first impression: On their debut at Badminton a talented German pairing make dressage look easy. Genevieve Murphy reports

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The Independent Online
MARINA LOHEIT held the lead for the Mitsubishi Trophy when the dressage phase of the Badminton Three- Day Event was completed yesterday

afternoon. The 26-year-old German, who is competing at Badminton for the first time, has a natural talent for dressage - as does her long-standing partner, Sundance Kid - and she used it to telling effect. Now 13, the horse was bought by her parents when he was an unbroken three-year-old.

Loheit was also leading with Sundance Kid after the dressage at Blenheim last year. She says that she enjoyed the cross-country there so much that she 'dropped off to sleep and went too slowly.' There will be no chance for a doze on today's cross-country course, which Loheit thinks is 'lovely'.

The German rider has overtaken the top three in the overnight placings - Mark Todd on Horton Point, William Fox-Pitt on Chaka and Ian Stark on Stanwick Ghost. Lucinda Murray, who had been fifth with Arctic Goose on Thursday, now holds the same place with Just Jeremy.

'I had to work quite hard,' Murray said. 'Jeremy can freeze when there are big crowds, I just hope it doesn't affect his concentration on the cross-country. You seem to run through tunnels of people at Badminton and the horse doesn't see the fences until the last minute.'

Murray is lying seventh on Arctic Goose, one place behind Australia's Felicity Cribb on Carmody Street. 'Goose pulls my arms out and Jeremy needs a lot of leg, so they'll both

require a bit of strength from me on the cross-country,' Murray said.

Karen Dixon, whose Get Smart can be explosive in the charged atmosphere of the dressage arena here, rode a splendidly tactful test and is now lying eighth. Her score was the best ever achieved at Badminton by Get Smart, who has a wonderfully consistent record on the cross-country with clear rounds in all five of his appearances.

Mary Thomson, now ninth on King William, would have occupied a higher place had the horse consented to walk when required to do so. He jogged his way through the whole of the second walk and Thomson reckoned that the three judges were generous with their marks: three, three and one (out of 10).

King William has impressive paces and he looked wonderful in some of the other movements. 'But the walk was just a bit too much for him,' Thomson said. She thinks that the course today will suit him and she is longing to tackle the 29 fences with him.

BADMINTON THREE-DAY EVENT (Avon): Standings after dressage: 1 Sundance Kid (M Loheit, Ger) 37.4; 2 Horton Point (M Todd, NZ) 40.6; 3 Chaka (W Fox-Pitt, GB) 42.0; 4 Stanwick Ghost (I Stark, GB) 42.8; 5 Just Jeremy (L Murray, GB) 44.8; 6 Carmody Street (F Cribb, Aus) 47.2.