EQUESTRIANISM: Overesch shows her mastery

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The Independent Online
BETTINA OVERESCH set sail around the cross-country course here yesterday, when she took advantage of a good dressage and clear show jumping round to win the Pedigree Chum Masters Section of the Cornbury Park Horse Trials on the sprightly 16-year-old Watermill Stream.

The grey gelding recorded the fastest cross-country time to defeat Pippa Funnell on Designer Tramp, Rodney Powell on Flintstone IV and Mary King on King William. Funnell was also eighth on Supreme Rock, with whom she is short-listed for September's European Championships - without having hurried either of her mounts across country.

While Funnell and others had their sights set on the European Championships, which will be held at Luhmuhlen in Germany from 16 to 19 September, Overesch (who is individual champion) has decided that she will not defend her title. Watermill Stream has now retired from full-scale three-day events, having sustained an over-reach injury at last year's World Equestrian Games where he failed the last horse inspection when lying in second place.

"He is such a lovely horse to ride and he doesn't owe me anything," Overesch said of the horse who has been her partner for six years. Watermill Stream's next outing will be at Gatcombe Park this week.

"It's wonderful to be back on Designer Tramp," Funnell said of the 10- year-old, whose last three-day event was at Punchestown in 1997 when he finished in second place. Supreme Rock, who was having his first run since finishing sixth at Badminton in May, gave just as much pleasure: "He made it seem like a Pony Club course, I felt I was on auto-pilot."

Mary King and Karen Dixon, who had both been injured this year, were happy to be back to top-class competition. King's only concession to the injuries sustained in April, when she broke a wrist and ankle at Saumur in France, was to wear her old (and more roomy) boots. King hopes to be chosen to ride Star Appeal in the European Championships and will be looking to impress the selectors at Thirlestane Castle next month.

Last week Dixon jumped her first fence since a fall at Bramham in June, when she broke her shoulder, fractured three ribs and punctured a lung. Yesterday she rode Too Smart to a confidence-boosting round for 84 penalties and 28th place.

Blyth Tait, the world and Olympic champion from New Zealand, gave Chesterfield "a nice flowing round" ahead of the British Open at Gatcombe. He nevertheless held the lead in his advanced section until overtaken by William Fox-Pitt on Western Reef.

Results, Digest, page 9