Equestrianism: O'Connor hits form: Houdini limbers up

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The Independent Online
TWO overseas riders - New Zealander Vicky Latta on Chief and David O'Connor, of the United States, with On A Mission - shared the lead after the first day of dressage in the British Open section of the Calor Gas Horse Trials Championships at Gatcombe Park.

O'Connor's first mount, Lighter Than Air, would have been on the same score as the leaders but for incurring two penalties when the rider made one 'error of course'. There was no mistake with On A Mission, a former show jumper who is the rider's main hope for next year's World Equestrian Games.

Latta, who is based at Gatcombe, has never jumped the cross-country course here before. The dressage phase, previously held in the main arena, is now in a field some twenty minutes walk away. Captain Mark Phillips, the organiser and course designer, said that the change had been made because of the number of entries. The move has proved unpopular. 'It's less fun; in the arena you feel important, up there you feel like a grockle,' Virginia Leng said.

Phillips conceded that he will need to re-think before next year. There was nothing wrong with the ground, though. Leng, who was not sure whether she would run Welton Houdini over today's cross-country until she arrived here yesterday, said: 'The going couldn't be better. I'm glad because Houdini needs the outing, the more you run him the better he gets.'

CALOR GAS HORSE TRIALS CHAMPIONSHIPS (Gatcombe Park): British Open (standings

after first day of dressage): 1= Chief (V Latta, NZ) and On A Mission (D O'Connor, US) 30 penalties; 3 Lighter Than Air (D O'Connor, US) 32; 4 Get Smart (K Dixon, GB) 33; 5 Welton Houdini (V Leng, GB) 34; 6= Glendevlin

(M Godfrey, US) and Heron's Flight (P Nolan, GB) 36.

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