British duo aiming to impress selectors

Both Di Lampard and Geoff Billington will be intent on proving a point to the Olympic show jumping selectors when they compete in the Traxdata Royal International Horse Show, which begins here today. This is the last show before the British teams, for all three equestrian disciplines, are announced on 3 August.

Both Di Lampard and Geoff Billington will be intent on proving a point to the Olympic show jumping selectors when they compete in the Traxdata Royal International Horse Show, which begins here today. This is the last show before the British teams, for all three equestrian disciplines, are announced on 3 August.

Lampard, out of action for two months with a thigh injury, made a successful comeback during The Horse Show at Great Leighs in Essex last weekend. Three of her four rounds with Abbervail Dream were faultless, but Hickstead will be a more crucial test.

Billington has had falls at combination fences with Virtual Village It's Otto at both Modena and Cannes. He nevertheless knows that it will be hard for the selectors to omit such a class horse from the Olympic team if he regains his best form in tomorrow's Nations Cup and Sunday's King George V Gold Cup.

Waiting in the wings are two lesser-known riders, Andrew Davies and Carl Edwards, who were with the Whitaker brothers on this month's winning Nations Cup team in Aachen.

Davies, a 25-year-old Welshman, will be hoping to strengthen his Olympic claims when he rides Captain Wellington for the home team tomorrow - together with Lampard, Billington and John Whitaker. Edwards will have the same purpose during Saturday's Spanish Nations Cup in Gijon, where he rides Bit More Candy.

The Hickstead line-up of seven nations include the Irish, who now hold a strong lead in the Samsung Nations Cup series, and a powerful team from France. Ireland is represented by Peter Charles, the former European champion, and three younger riders who are making such an impact on the sport: Captain Gerry Flynn, Cian O'Connor and Kevin Babington.

Flynn and O'Connor are the two leading riders in the Samsung series. Babington made an impressive debut at Aachen, where he made only one error with Carling King during the two rounds of the Nations Cup.

The most valuable prize of the show is a £24,000 Lotus car which will be awarded to the winner of the Horse and Hound Eventing Grand Prix. This is far more tempting than the £5,000 which went to last year's winner, so it should persuade more of the leading show jumping riders to take on the eventers - especially that the dreaded dressage phase has been scrapped.

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