Equestrianism: Phillipps falls foul of Law

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The Independent Online
LESLIE LAW achieved his first win at three-star level when he rode Shear H20 to victory at the Bramham Horse and Hound International Three-Day Event and, in the process, prevented a controversial triumph for Polly Phillipps, who was the only rider to finish on her dressage score with Coral Cove.

Demands had been made for Phillipps to pull out of Bramham because of the heated controversy that still surrounds the positive dope test on her mount, Coral Cove, at last year's World Equestrian Games in which British team bronze medals and Olympic qualification were forfeited. Phillipps, who spent the last two nights in Coral Cove's stable for fear of any meddling with the horse, refused to go home.

The unpleasant saga continued yesterday when a hostile posse of riders attended the press conference for the top three riders.

Mark Todd asked Phillipps: "You've been quoted in the press as saying you're innocent, do you still maintain that?" She replied by saying that the British Horse Trials Association (BHTA) had told her "not to say anything until the inquiry".

This has been the most contentious issue ever to hit the sport. According to Todd: "There was more ill feeling this week than I've experienced in 20 years of eventing because of a load of lies. A lot of people do know what happened."

This morning Clarke Willis, who was appointed managing director of the BHTA this year, will set an independent inquiry in motion after consultation with the association's lawyers. "We are keen to get a definitive report as soon as possible," he said.

Since the attempt to withold the news that Coral Cove had tested positive to salicylic acid at a level above the permitted threshold, there have already been resignations from Giles Rowsell, the chairman of the selection committee, and Andy Bathe, the team vet.

Law's victory, which was over-shadowed by all the ill-feeling here, was his second international win in a week. The previous weekend, Law had ridden Shear L'Eau to victory at Blarney Castle in Ireland. Both horses are by the same sire and their dams are closely related.

The top three horses here had jumped clear within the optimum time over Saturday's cross-country - as had Polly Clark, who finished sixth on Westlord. Law, who held the overnight lead, said that he had felt the pressure during yesterday's final show jumping - especially after he had made a single mistake. A second error would have given victory to Phillipps, who had been under a different kind of pressure when she jumped her clear round for second place.

Karen Dixon, who was on the World Games team with Phillipps, was in hospital yesterday with a broken shoulder, three fractured ribs and a punctured lung. She had sustained her injuries in a fall with Uptotrix on Saturday at the seventh cross-country fence. Julie Robinson was also taken to hospital with suspected back injuries.

Results, Digest, page 9