Equestrianism: Notable double for Bartle

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The Independent Online
Christopher Bartle becomes the first rider to compete on a British championship team for both dressage and horse trials when he rides Word Perfect II in the European Three-Day Event Championships, sponsored by Pedigree Chum, which begin this morning at Burghley in Lincolnshire.

Bartle will be third to go among the four British team riders, who were named yesterday. Mary King goes first on last year's Burghley winner, Star Appeal, followed by Ian Stark on Arakai, Bartle on Word Perfect and William Fox-Pitt on Cosmopolitan II. They will defend the European title won at Pratoni del Vivaro in Italy two years ago, when both King and Fox- Pitt were part of the team.

Stark, who will be riding in his 11th senior championship, had been omitted from the original British "long-list" because Lord and Lady Vestey, the owners of Arakai, felt their talented horse was not sufficiently experienced for the challenge. They have changed their minds having seen the impressive way in which he has matured during the last few months.

Britain had the satisfaction of defeating every nation (including the non-Europeans) when they won from the powerful New Zealanders in 1995. The Kiwis again look threatening, as do the Australians (who have won team gold medals at the last two Olympic Games) and the Atlanta Olympic silver medallists from the United States.

Though the New Zealand riders have frequently dominated the major annual contests (notably Badminton) they have not won a team title at championship level since their victory in the 1990 World Equestrian Games. Mark Todd, the dual Olympic champion, will do his best to improve the record - as will Blyth Tait and Sally Clark, the individual gold and silver medallists in Atlanta.