Equestrianism: Nolan seeks improvement

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The Independent Online
PIPPA NOLAN, who became national champion last month, is determined to complete Saturday's cross-country course at the Audi Three-Day Event, which begins today in the grounds of Blenheim Palace, near Oxford.

That in itself would be an improvement on last year when Nolan retired in both her attempts at Mike Etherington-Smith's course. This time, Nolan, 23, rides two eight-year-old geldings, Cartoon II - one of her partners in 1991 - and Marshland Amigo.

Nolan regards New Zealand's Blyth Tait as her most formidable opponent this weekend - Blenheim having moved itself forward from late September after being plagued in recent years by bad weather.

Tait will be riding the 15-year- old Ricochet, with whom he won the Irish three-day event at Punchestown in May and last month's Scottish Open Championship at Thirlestane Castle.

His victory last weekend in the Blair Three-Day Event - also in Scotland - means he has taken over at the top of the FEI world three-day event rankings. Britain's Mary Thomson, though, has the chance to regain the lead when she rides King Samuel at Blenheim.

New Zealand's Andrew Nicholson, last year's winner on Park Grove and the 1990 runner-up on Applause, brings two new horses - Pilot Light, who was runner-up at the Windsor three-day event in May, and Courtown.

The misfortunes which have dogged Ian Stark this year continued when the Scot withdrew Clan Royal, who may be his mount when he defends his European title next year. The horse had a slight knock and it was decided not to risk him at Blenheim.

LAND ROVER FEI RIDER RANKINGS: 1 B Tait (NZ) 244pts; 2 M Thomson (GB) 239; 3 V Latta (NZ) 157.