EQUESTRIANISM; Tait ready for repeat triumph at Open

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The Independent Online
BLYTH TAIT, the winner of last year's British Open Championship, had a splendid preparatory outing in his attempt for a repeat victory at Gatcombe Park this weekend. Having won on Ready Teddy 12 months ago, the New Zealand world and Olympic champion is now relying on Chesterfield, with whom he finished third at Bramham in June.

The 14-year-old horse was rested after his Bramham exertions, before reappearing to jump a flowing round at Cornbury Park on Sunday. "You don't go to the British Open without a run beforehand," Tait said at the Oxfordshire event, where Chesterfield finished second in his section.

Five horses on the British short-list for September's European Three- Day Event Championships are due to run in the British Open: The Gangster II (Kristina Gifford); Flintstone IV (Rodney Powell); Shear H20 (Leslie Law); Over to You (Jeanette Brakewell); and Magic Rogue (Gary Parsonage).

Few, if any, of these combinations are likely to go all-out for victory, since they may need to keep something in hand for the trials at Thirlestane Castle and Henbury Hall later this month. They will nevertheless want to impress the selectors - as will Mary King, who is still hoping to make the Europeans with Star Appeal, having been omitted from the shortlist on account of her own injuries.

Bettina Overesch, winner of the Masters Section at Cornbury and the reigning European champion, will have nothing to restrain her competitive instincts at Gatcombe. The German rider's wonderful grey, Watermill Stream, has now retired from full-scale three-day events, so we can expect to see him going full tilt across country. Given the horse's ability to produce excellent dressage, Overesch may be the one to beat.

For the first time in 17 years the Gatcombe organiser, Captain Mark Phillips, will not be present. He is in Winnipeg as trainer of the United States team competing in the Pan-American Games. Sue Benson takes over responsibility for the cross-country course.

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