Equestrianism: Trio put on trial: Five-day show

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NICK SKELTON and Michael Whitaker have returned here for the five-day horse show, which begins this morning under the tall pine trees of the beautiful Piazza di Siena. They are joined by three young British riders - Warren Clarke, Matthew Lanni and John Popely - in their twenties.

These three will be watched with special interest by the team manager, Ronnie Massarella, and Michael Bullman, who is chairman of the selectors. One of the trio will probably be chosen for the World Equestrian Games at The Hague this summer - unless David Broome (whose Lannegan is for sale) can be persuaded to keep the horse for a few more months in order to jump at the Games.

Clarke, who was British reserve for last year's European Championships, competed in Rome 12 months ago. His grey mount, Benjumin, had one mistake in each of the two rounds of the Nations Cup, in which Britain finished second to Germany. The horse has since won Puissance contests - at Wembley, Washington and Toronto - proving that he has a powerful jump.

Lanni and Popely are jumping here for the first time. They were both with Clarke on the North American circuit late last year and their performances on that trip were encouraging enough for them to be selected for the big show here. Popely's prizes in America included a fourth on Bluebird in the Volvo World Cup qualifier at New York.

Skelton, certain to be chosen for the World Games together with the Whitaker brothers, has his top mounts in Italy. They include Everest Dollar Girl, winner of the Calgary Grand Prix last year and his probable mount for The Hague.