Equestrianism: Tait calms nerves to rise to the occasion

OLYMPIC GAMES
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The Independent Online
In the individual three-day event endurance test, the former World champion, Blyth Tait of New Zealand, gave the day's outstanding performance. Riding Ready Teddy, the least experienced horse competing and, at eight, probably the youngest, they rose to the occasion, standing first before today's show jumping stage. They are less than a single show jumping error ahead of compatriot Sally Clark on Squirrel Hill, with America's Kelly Millikin third on Out And About.

"I was nervous today for the horse's sake" said Tait. "I hold him in the highest esteem and now even higher."

Ready Teddy showed his greenness in places, especially at the water fences. "I thought I was a gonner at the first one," he said. "But I dropped the reins and he did it on his own. He's almost too brave, with a heart of gold."

Tait showed his class, using all his skill to give the horse confidence and placing him perfectly at every obstacle.

Once again, it was not Britain's day. Mary King, the clear leader after the dressage, ran into trouble at the ninth fence when King William jumped to his left at the first part. "I pulled him round and over corrected him, he was baffled and by the last part he just couldn't jump it - the first time he's ever stopped." It was their only mistake and they went round with 26.40 penalties. "It's such a shame, I feel I've let everyone down," she said.

Chris Hunnable and Mr Bootsie belied their comparative inexperience with a fine round, but Hunnable was disappointed that his 32 time penalties leave him down in 9th place. He is 2.8 points Charlotte Bathe, Britain's third individual, who produced a stirring cross country round on the Cool Customer only for the horse to break down on his left foreleg between the last two fences. He bravely clambered over the last jump and walked through the finish, but they will not reappear at this morning's vetinary inspection.

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