Equestrianism: Murphy Himself takes command

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The Independent Online
IAN STARK and Murphy Himself won the first of yesterday's advanced sections at the Allen and Harris Horse Trials, which doubled as a final Olympic trial for the riders from 20 nations.

Stark's section included all the horses on the British short-list though King Boris, with whom Mary Thomson was runner-up, is not one of them. She hopes to go to Barcelona with this year's Badminton winner, King William, whose steady clear round must ensure her a place when the team is announced today.

Karen Dixon survived an anxious moment with Get Smart, who clouted the rails into water at fence 14, to finish third. Two more of the British favourites on the short-list - Virginia Leng on Master Craftsman and Richard Walker on Jacana - finished fifth and seventh.

Unlike the United States team, which is being chosen on a points system to avoid the threat of litigation from any rider who is omitted, the British will not place much emphasis on yesterday's results. Leng and Stark had felt under great pressure, but their concern was to avoid any small slip or knock that could leave their horses sidelined.

This morning's veterinary inspection at Badminton will be crucial, because the restriction on the number of horses that can be taken to Barcelona means that any slight problem could influence the selectors' choice.

ALLEN AND HARRIS HORSE TRIALS (Savernake Forest, Wilts) Advanced Section I: 1 Murphy Himself (I Stark, GB) 41 penalties; 2 King Boris (M Thomson, GB) 46; 3 Get Smart (K Dixon, GB) 47. Section II: Ricochet (B Tait, NZ) 43; 2 Adonis (M Plumb, US) 44; 3 Mystic High (B Davidson, US) 45. Section III: 1 Delta (B Tait, NZ) 44; 2 Chief (V Latta, NZ) 44; 3 Messiah (B Tait, NZ) 46.

NATIONS CUP MEETING (Aachen): Grand Prix: 1 Optiebeurs Egano (J Lansink, Neth) clear, 59.22sec in jump-off; 2 Everest Dollar Girl (N Skelton, GB) 12 faults, 51.95; 3 Ancit Lannegan (D Broome, GB) 0.25 faults in first two rounds. Other GB (with faults for two rounds): 6 Henderson Midnight Madness (M Whitaker) 4 faults; 11 Denizen (T Grubb) 5.25 faults; 19 Genesis (T Cassan) 8 faults.