Equestrianism; Rain takes its toll

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The Independent Online
PREDICTIONS from Hugh Thomas, course designer and director of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, that his cross-country course would produce over 30 clear rounds, looked near the mark yesterday. But as the rain fell on Friday night and then for much of yesterday, the task became more testing .

Leslie Law, taking two horses round rode clear with just 1.2 time penalties on Capitano. Then Ian Stark rode a fluent, impressive round on his first ride, the inexperienced Arakai, who completed with 12 seconds to spare inside the minimum time of 12 minutes and 10 seconds.

Perhaps you could expect that of the "Flying Scot" riding a New Zealand thoroughbred by Ring The Bell ,who also sired this year's Grand National winner, Lord Gyllene.

The first few made the course look easy but they don't come much better than Law and Stark and when Victoria Sinnatt crashed at the Cirencester rails and retired with Staks, the problems became obvious.

Hopes that Paddy Muir, with Archie Brown, could retain their fifth position after dressage as a boost for the British were dashed at the Lake when they refused twice before completing with 1.6 time penalties. It was left to Daisy Dick on Headley Bravo, completing Badminton on her third attempt, and Alexandra Morney on Double Trouble VI to uphold pride for the host nation.

Among others to make expensive mistakes were the newcomers Paul Rigby (on Bronze Blade), Sarah Longshaw (on Ballycotton) and Darrell Scaise (on Alfred of Church Farm).

Clear rounds from international stars were numerous. The US riders David O'Connor (on Custom Made, 0.4 time faults) and Kerry Milliken (on Out And About), who both excelled at the Atlanta Olympics, were expected. But young Linda Algotsson, from Sweden, who shared second place with O'Connor after dressage, rode with skill and determination on Lafayett to hold her position after cross-country.

The Olympic champion Blyth Tait, on Chesterfield, and his compatriot Sally Clark, with Squirrel Hill, also lived up to big reputations. There will be a nailbiting finale in today's show jumping.

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