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EQUESTRIANISM; Official resigns `to heal wounds'

WHILE JOHN WHITAKER collected another two prizes at the Aachen International Horse Show, the Coral Cove positive dope test saga continued on its unhappy course at home with the resignation of a third key official: Michael Allen, the chairman of the British Horse Trials Association.

Allen's exit follows the departure last week of Giles Rowsell, chairman of the selectors, and Andy Bathe, the team vet. In his resignation letter, Allen wrote: "There is no bitterness in my departure - I just hope it will help to heal quickly the present wounds."

The BHTA board will meet on Tuesday, prior to a members' meeting at Stoneleigh, to appoint an interim chairman. It was also announced yesterday that Polly Phillipps has confirmed to the International Equestrian Federation that she will not appeal against the decision of the Judicial Committee.

Bronze medals and Olympic qualification won at last year's World Equestrian Games are therefore forfeited. Britain now has to finish among the top three of the non-qualified teams in the European Championships to qualify for Sydney.

The British show jumping scene looks buoyant by comparison, thanks to the consistency of John Whitaker, who now has two seconds, a third and a fourth to his credit here this week. Yesterday he jumped two clear rounds on Virtual Village Welham to reach the jump-off for the Pulsar Masters, the major contest of the day, finishing third after two errors in the deciding round. Victory went to France's Philippe Rozier, on Barbarian, with Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum runner-up on Sprehe Just Do It.

John and Michael Whitaker were second and third in the Handwerkes Prize, behind another Frenchman, Olivier Guillon.