Equestrianism: Thomson gains an advantage

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The Independent Online
MARY THOMSON held the lead at the end of yesterday's first day of dressage at the Brittany Ferries Three- Day Event in Windsor Great Park, where she is trying to win the international section for the fourth time.

She is riding King Basil, a handsome seven-year-old bay gelding whom she bought in Devon two years ago. Though still immature, Basil possesses good paces and a wonderfully equable temperament that resulted in a soft and relaxed test which impressed the judges.

Thomson holds a 2.8-point advantage over Sweden's young Olympic rider, Peder Fredericsson on Soldier Mic. The Swede was a disappointing 78th after his dressage test on Hilly Trip in Barcelona but moved up to finish 14th after the cross-country and show jumping.

Next comes Ian Stark on Dear Hardy (by Lord Nelson), who produced his best-ever dressage test yesterday. 'He's a very talented horse with a huge Murphy-type jump,' Stark said, comparing his bay partner with his great Olympic mount, Murphy Himself.

Dear Hardy's big jump flung Stark out of the saddle at Cornbury last month; the horse also had two 'silly run-outs' at the Blair Castle Three- Day Event last August. Stark hopes to avoid such mishaps when he tackles the 28 cross-country fences tomorrow.

Thomson plans to take all the fast routes on King Basil, including the water complex at The Prince of Wales' Pond (fences 25 and 26), which is unlike anything the horse has seen before.

New Zealand's Mark Todd is lying 11th on his gift-horse, General Knowledge. The horse lost his right eye through an accident before being given to Todd, and the New Zealander will not attempt any short turns to the right tomorrow.