Equestrianism: Squelch survives sticky going

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The Independent Online
BRUCE DAVIDSON held the lead for the United States when the dressage phase of the senior international section of the Blenheim Audi Horse Trials was completed yesterday. The former dual world champion, now 44, went ahead of the Australian Olympic champion, Matt Ryan, who was the overnight leader.

Davidson's mount was the eight-year-old, Squelch, a classy chestnut gelding who had acquired his unprepossessing name before teaming up with his present rider two years ago. Third here last year, Squelch should be ready to tackle today's cross-country course with the extra confidence and aggression that comes with experience. If so, Davidson might well consider the horse as his possible partner for the 1996 Olympics.

Nigel Lynn, 19, is the best placed Briton in sixth place in the senior section. He won the national junior title at the Windsor Three-Day Event last year on Sydney James, with whom he faces his biggest challenge so far on the cross-country course.

Lynn had hoped to be competing here as one of the British competitors in the Young Riders European Championships, but that possibility looked remote when he retired after a fall at Bramham in June. Sydney James had a small cut on his mouth a week before Bramham and he wrenched a shoe off in the steeplechase.

Terry Boon, who won the national title for young riders at Bramham, holds the advantage as he attempts to win a second successive European title this weekend. His mount, Vital Decision, performed his usual excellent dressage test despite sticky going, the rain-sodden ground feeling the affect of sun and wind.

Boon had a fall at Gatcombe last month with Vital Decision, but it does not appear to have dented his confidence. Unless required to play safe for the team, Boon would like to take most of the fast routes today. If all goes well, he will be aiming Vital Decision for Badminton next year.