Bartle finds right lines on Word Perfect

Christopher Bartle and the 1998 Badminton winner, Word Perfect II, held a narrow lead at the end of the dressage phase of the Burghley Pedigree Horse Trials. He has moved 0.4 of a penalty ahead of the overnight leaders, Merran Wallis of Australia and Gershwin III, with Owen Moore in third place on Lord Killinghurst.

Christopher Bartle and the 1998 Badminton winner, Word Perfect II, held a narrow lead at the end of the dressage phase of the Burghley Pedigree Horse Trials. He has moved 0.4 of a penalty ahead of the overnight leaders, Merran Wallis of Australia and Gershwin III, with Owen Moore in third place on Lord Killinghurst.

Word Perfect, on the British Olympic reserve list, went into quarantine in case he was required for Sydney and only came out on the day the chosen horses flew to Australia. Though a little tense in the dressage, the 12-year-old was much better behaved than at Badminton in May, when he finished the dressage in 58th place.

Bartle will be taking most of the fast routes over today's cross-country course of 34 fences. He was, however, intending to take the slower alternative at The Podiums (fences 25 to 27) and he planned to have a serious look at the Dinosaur Eggs (fence six) where he felt that the positioning of a flowerbed made for an awkward line if going the quickest way. "It's also quite early on and Word Perfect could still be cheeky," Bartle said.

On Monday Bartle flies to Sydney, where he will be dressage trainer to the British three-day event squad.

Darren Chiacchia, now lying fourth on RG Renegade, was 13th on the list of US riders from which 12 made the journey to Sydney. "So I decided to pop the horse on a plane going the opposite way and came to Burghley instead," Chiacchia said.

The US rider took over the big, strong horse after his owner had suffered a broken leg with him. It is Renegade's first time here. Chiacchia has been twice before with a horse called Jaguar, who fell at the Podium Bounce in the muddy conditions of 1998 and was withdrawn after the dressage with an infected joint last year.

William Fox-Pitt, who was among the favourites after winning the British Open Championship at Gatcombe with Moon Man, was disappointed with his score which has left him 12th. He is now one place behind New Zealand's Mark Todd, who is having his last ride in England on Just a Mission.

Fox-Pitt, who is the riders' representative here, was due to have a meeting with the officials last night. He was concerned about the steeplechase fences, which are four metres wide instead of the six recommended by the International Equestrian Federation. He also felt that the Irish Bank at fence 17 could become a skid pad if the weather is wet today.

Burghley Pedigree Horse Trials (Stamford, Lincs): Results after dressage: 1 Word Perfect II (C Bartle, GB) 42.4 penalties; 2 Gershwin III (M Wallis, Aus) 42.8; 3 Lord Killinghurst (O Moore, GB) 44.4; 4 R G Renegade (D Chiacchia, US) 45.6; 5 Mr Smiffy (A Nicholson, NZ) 46.2; 6 Makabi (T Louden, US) 48.4; 7 Brer Rabbit II (O Moore, GB) 50.0; =8 Pathfinder (B Morris, US) and Crown Feldspar (C Hardinge, GB) 54.0; 10 Irish Skater (J Robinson, GB) 54.4.

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