EQUESTRIANISM: Tait's mount injured

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MARK TODD and Andrew Nicholson are the two riders most likely to benefit from the absence of their New Zealand team-mate Blyth Tait at the Blenheim International Horse Trials which begin today. Tait has had to withdraw his injured ride, Welton Envoy.

Todd has two mounts at Blenheim: Diamond Hall Red and the classy New Zealand thoroughbred, Regal Scot. Nicholson also has two: the eight-year- old Kiwi Style and this year's Windsor runner -up, King Leo. No one needs reminding that the Kiwis are hot favourites for next month's World Equestrian Games in Italy, where a weakened Great Britain squad will do their best to put up a gallant fight.

Gary Parsonage, one of the two squad members at Blenheim this week, rides Toucan, who is by Scindian Magic (the same sire as his World Games mount, Magic Rogue).

Both horses have benefited from training with the British dressage rider, Richard Davison, though Toucan has fewer problems to iron out than Magic Rogue, whose great forte is the cross-country. Toucan won the first advanced section at Hartpury last month, with Todd taking the second on Regal Scot.

Nigel Taylor, a late addition to the Great Britain squad last week, rides two nine- year-olds, Spitfire and Rye Lane, at Blenheim. Spitfire is the more experienced, having finished 16th at Blenheim last year and 22nd at Bramham in June.