Fox-Pitt has eye on the future

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William Fox-Pitt held the lead in two sections of the Doubleprint British Horse Trials Championships when the first day of dressage ended yesterday.

The more significant of the Briton's two achievements came with his Olympic mount Cosmopolitan II, who overtook the winners of this year's Badminton, David O'Connor and Custom Made of the United States. Both Fox-Pitt and O'Connor had opted to compete in an advanced section on these horses instead of the more important British Open Championship, which takes place today and tomorrow.

Fox-Pitt is aiming Cosmopolitan, third at Badminton, at next month's European Open Championships at Burghley, and the horse is be an obvious choice for the British team if he remains sound. With that in mind, Fox- Pitt will not be chasing a fast time with the horse in today's cross-country. "If I'd been in with a chance of winning the British Open I'd have been too tempted to go for it," Fox-Pitt admitted.

O'Connor will be equally restrained with Custom Made, especially if the Irish-bred horse is in one of his aggressive moods. "I love to be competitive but I don't want to put any pressure on the horse here," he said.

Unlike Fox-Pitt, O'Connor does have a mount for the British Open in Lightfoot - another Irish-bred, whom he describes as "a magic cross-country horse". The 10-year-old won at Blair Castle three years ago, had one refusal at Badminton last year (when tripping up a step out of water) and finished fifth at Kentucky this spring after losing the lead through two showjumping errors.

Fox-Pitt's other good dressage score came with Mr Beluga, a lovely grey nine-year-old gelding who moved into his Oxfordshire yard two weeks ago and is now leading the British Intermediate championship. Results, Digest, page 27