Equestrianism: Tentative Tait takes early lead

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BLYTH TAIT may have been "a bit cautious" when he rode his dressage test on Sam Barr's Welton Envoy, but the New Zealander was, nevertheless, leading when the first day of dressage was completed yesterday at the Bramham Horse and Hound International Three-Day Event in Yorkshire.

The 12-year-old has enough movement and presence to impress the judges even when he is not being asked to show his full potential. "He normally leads after the dressage, except at Chatsworth where he was a bit Bolshie," Tait said.

This is his first three-day event with Welton Envoy, who was due to run at Boekelo last year until rain reduced the Dutch contest to a one-day event and Tait withdrew because the ground was too wet.

Tait has a four-point advantage over Pippa Funnell on the Chatsworth runner-up, Rainbow Magic, with Mark Todd nine points further back in third place on Just a Mission. Todd took over his nine-year-old mount after Robert Lemieux retired at the end of 1997. The horse is one of "about 10" that the Kiwi rider will have qualified for the Olympics by the end of this year.

Stunning, who is one of them, is about to move to the British rider, William Fox-Pitt. "I've not sat on him yet, so we'll have to get some easy runs while I get used to him," Fox-Pitt said. "If all goes well, we might go to Burghley."

This year's Burghley, which runs from 2 to 5 September, will host a new contest devised by the Professional Event Riders Association. Riders will now be competing for the PERA Global Masters Trophy with a first prize of pounds 20,000. The members would like the contest to be run under the old system of scoring instead of the controversial new rules which were introduced this year.