Equestrianism: Powell clears final hurdle

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Rodney Powell moved up from overnight third to win the Blenheim Audi Horse Trials with a clear round in yesterday's final show jumping on Limmy's Comet. His nine-year-old partner, who slipped and fell at Badminton in May, has been for sale since the owners sent him to Powell and he will surely attract a buyer after his smooth performance here.

After a dry cross-country day on Saturday, the rain returned for yesterday's final test, in which competitors jumped in the reverse order of merit. Powell was followed by Australia's Felicity Cribb, who had two fences down on Carmody Street, and the overnight leader, Pippa Nolan, who lowered three on Cartoon II to finish behind Powell and Cribb in third place.

Cribb, 26, has been trained by David Green since February. She was able to come to England on a grant that was given to the eight members of the Australian squad and she has made good use of it. Next year she plans to ride Carmody Street at Badminton.

Powell was relieved to have a confidence-boosting win here after a miserable spring, during which he received two warnings for allegedly pressing tired horses. The first, which was unofficial, came at Badminton where he fell with both his mounts, Limmy's Comet and The Fisherman.

Having moved home and stables in April, Powell said that his training programme for Badminton had been seriously disrupted.

His second warning, this time official, was delivered after his cross-country round at Bramham in June with Valindrie. 'Naturally that does undermine your confidence, especially as I didn't think I'd done anything wrong,' he said.

He will now feel more positive as he prepares to ride Valindrie and The Fisherman at Burghley this week.

Nolan was not distressed at losing her overnight lead yesterday, having been well aware that show jumping is not Cartoon's strong point. 'I'm determined that we'll get it right eventually,' she said.

Mary Thomson, who had led after the dressage on King Samuel, had one refusal on Saturday and New Zealand's world champion Blyth Tait had one run-out with Ricochet. Tait, nevertheless, advanced from 10th to finish sixth after a clear round yesterday.

BLENHEIM AUDI HORSE TRIALS: Final placings: 1 Limmy's Comet (R Powell, GB) 59.2 penalties; 2 Carmody Street (F Cribb, Aus) 69.0; 3 Cartoon II (P Nolan, GB) 69.55; 4 Kilbernie (G Law, GB) 72.45; 5 Welton Fairgame (L Murray, GB) 73.0; 6 Ricochet (B Tait, NZ) 76.6.