EQUESTRIANISM: Todd's glee amid gloom

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The Independent Online
MARK TODD became the first rider to win 25 international three- day events (and his fifth at this Lincolnshire venue) when he rode Diamond Hall Red to victory in the Pedigree Chum Horse Trials yesterday.

The New Zealander described the atmosphere in the horsebox park on Saturday night as "depressed and awful" following the fatal injuries sustained by Simon Long on the cross-country course here. "It was terribly sad, but you have to go on and be positive," Todd said.

He had held a 16-point advantage on his other mount, Word for Word, after the cross-country - with Diamond Hall Red then lying third - but there was to be a re-jigging on the top placings as they show jumped yesterday in the reverse order of merit.

Diamond Hall Red, going early so that Todd would have time to warm up his other mount, jumped a smooth clear round, as did Karen Dixon, who was overnight fourth on Too Smart. Kristina Gifford then had 10 penalties on General Jock, who had given her a wonderful cross-country ride but has never been the most reliable of show jumpers.

Todd looked set to fill the top two places before Word for Word, the runner-up at Badminton this year, clobbered four fences and dropped to third, behind runner-up the gallant Karen Dixon, who has come back after giving birth to her first child and being seriously injured in a subsequent fall at Bramham.

The winning horse had, according to Todd, always jumped clear across- country since he began riding him two years ago. "He's been lurking around for a while, but he's never been placed in a three-day event before," he said.

In most cases the nine-year-old had been held back by his dressage marks, but a spell during the winter with the British dressage rider, Jane Bredin, appears to have worked wonders.

Dixon, finishing on the same score as the winner but taking the lower place through being further from the optimum time across country, must have impressed the selectors as a candidate for next year's Olympics.

Last year British riders filled only two of the top eight places here. This time they had five in the same group, with Dixon followed by Gifford, Mary King, Polly Clark and Jeanette Brakewell.

After yesterday's prizegiving Todd rode his dual Olympic gold medallist, Charisma, into the arena for a farewell appearance before he returns home to New Zealand in October. At 27 years of age, he still looked the proudest and fittest of any horse here.

Results, Digest, page 11