Equestrianism: Todd checks in with Chessman: Dixon too smart

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The Independent Online
MARK TODD picked up two new horses last week and duly added their names to a now familiar script in the Calor Gas Horse Trials Championships.

Yesterday, the New Zealander won the Intermediate Championship on Chessman (usually partnered by Leslie Law) to go with his third prize in Saturday's British Open on Bertie Blunt, the former mount of Nick Burton.

Rarely can the vagaries of the sport have been mentioned so frequently. Todd, who won at Badminton this year, fell at last month's World Games and bounced back to form here. Karen Dixon, who won her first British Open title so impressively with eight-year-old Too Smart, was left to compare this year's fortunes with the disasters of 1993.

Dixon won team gold and individual bronze medals on Get Smart at the World Games and Too Smart was in cracking form here. Her other two horses - Hot Property, fourth in an advanced section, and Get Sharpe, sixth in the Intermediate Championship - did all that she asked of them.

Last year, Dixon's fall in the water with Get Smart, who sustained an injury that was to keep him out of the European Championships, marked the beginning of the worst eight days she has ever experienced.

After competing at Thirlestane Castle in Scotland the following weekend, she returned home to hear that her father had died suddenly and that her cottage had been burgled.

Andrew Nicholson, another of the Kiwis to have fallen at the World Games, had his ups and downs in quick succession. He had two falls in an advanced section on Saturday with Buckley's Province, but won the class with his third win in as many outings on Cartoon II, formerly ridden by Pippa Funnell.

Nicholson was prematurely told that he had won yesterday's Intermediate Championship on Walk on Top, but he knew that another rider was still on the course - Todd. The latter knew that he had to go fast and clear and did just that.

CALOR GAS BRITISH HORSE TRIALS CHAMPIONSHIPS (Gatcombe Park): British Open Championship: 1 Too Smart (K Dixon, GB) 48 penalties; 2 Chaka (W Fox-Pitt, GB) 51; 3 Bertie Blunt (M Todd, NZ) 53. Intermediate Championship: 1 Chessman (Todd) 46; 2 Walk on Top (A Nicholson, NZ) 47; 3 Welton Envoy (L Law, GB) 47. Advanced I: 1 Cartoon II (Nicholson) 53; 2 Alfresco (S Bullen, GB) 54; 3 King Kong (M Thomson) 55. Advanced II: 1 Squelch (B Davidson, US) 46; 2 Kingscourt II (A Davidson, NZ) 53; 3 Midnight Blue II (K Gifford, GB) 54.