Equestrianism: Nolan's grip on the lead

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PIPPA NOLAN retained her overnight lead on Metronome - and moved into fifth place on her second mount, Heron's Flight - when the dresssage phase of the Burghley Remy Martin Horse Trials was completed yesterday.

Surprisingly, none of yesterday's competitors achieved a better score than the top three on Thursday. Second place, therefore, is kept by the Frenchman Didier Courreges, who is competing in England for the first time. Paddy Muir remains in third place, with Andrew Harris moving into fourth on Ballycotton.

'I'm amazed that I'm still in the lead,' Nolan said, when the dressage was over and she prepared to walk today's four-and-a-quarter- mile cross-country course for the fourth time. They are uncomfortable excursions, not so much because the 30 fences look worse each time, but on account of Nolan spraining her right ankle during the horse inspection on Wednesday.

Both Nolan's mounts are nine- year-olds by the stallion Home Boy and they were bred by their owner, Ruth McMullen. Metronome is the more experienced and Nolan, the 23-year-old British national champion, intends to ride an attacking round on him.

No fewer than 64 horses are within 20 penalties of Metronome. They include Lucinda Green, the former world and European champion, who last won here in 1981 and is attempting a comeback on Ernie Fenwick's Up River.

The blustery wind blew off Green's top-hat just over half-way through her test and she feared the horse would shy at it, but fortunately Up River took no notice of the black object on the ground.

Green has ridden the 10-year- old in three advanced events, but he is still kept at his owner's North Yorkshire yard. The rider lives in Hampshire, so she has few opportunities to ride Up River between competitions.

BURGHLEY REMY MARTIN HORSE TRIALS (Lincs): Standings after dressage: 1 Metronome (P Nolan, GB) 47.8 penalties; 2 Robin des Bois V (D Courreges, Fr) 49.4; 3 Archie Brown (P Muir, GB) 50.6; 4 Ballycotton (A Harris, GB) 50.8; 5 Heron's Flight (P Nolan, GB) 51.0; 6 Solo Performance (C Hollingsworth, GB) 51.2.

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