Equestrianism: Stark lets The Moose loose

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The Independent Online
IAN STARK could have three horses shortlisted for October's World Equestrian Games in Italy if The Moose, a giant of 18 hands, achieves a good all- round performance in the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials which begin today in Gloucestershire.

Stark has already impressed with Arakai (10th in the European Open Championships at Burghley last year) and with his most recent acquisition, Saucy Brown (fourth in the inaugural four-star contest in Kentucky last month). The Moose, who was fifth at Blenheim last year, could add further distinction to Stark's yard in the Scottish Borders.

"The Moose has very good movement, so he is capable of doing well in the dressage," Stark said. "But he is a bit spooky and he may want to have a good look at the judges' boxes." Despite his size, the big horse has proved to be neat and nimble across country.

If well-placed after Saturday's big test, Stark will be relieved to know that his partner is usually a reliable show jumper. Last year the Scot dropped from first to 13th with five show jumping errors on Stanwick Ghost.

Stark and Christopher Bartle will be the only members of Britain's winning European Championship team competing at Badminton. As always, they will be keeping a sharp look-out for the New Zealanders - in particular the Olympic gold medallists, Mark Todd and Blyth Tait.

Todd will be riding Broadcast News, the winner at Burghley last year. Tait partners Aspyring and his 1996 Olympic champion, Ready Teddy.