Equestranism: Fredericks hails Olympic potential of Nullabor

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Clayton Fredericks made a satisfying start to his attempt at following last year's victory here by his wife, Lucinda, by holding the lead when the dressage phase of the Burghley Horse Trials was completed yesterday.

Riding Nullabor, who was his mount when winning the British Open Championship at Gatcombe last year, the Australian overtook New Zealand's Andrew Nicholson and Britain's William Fox-Pitt who had held the top two places overnight.

Ten-year-old Nullabor is by an American thoroughbred and out of an Irish mare called Lethal Lass. He can be quite lethal himself, being liable to kick and bite those on the ground. On the plus side, he is a big horse with plenty of scope and Fredericks believes he has Olympic potential.

More to the point, he says that Nullabor is as good as Ben Along Time, who was his mount when winning the individual silver medal at last year's World Equestrian Games in Aachen.

Zara Phillips, who beat Fredericks to win the world title in Aachen on Toytown, was on the less experienced Ardfield Magic Star yesterday. Though down in 23rd place, the 10-year-old gelding showed definite improvement – thanks in part to Zara's step-mother, Sandy Phillips, who rode him during the winter. The horse jumped round the four-star track at Luhmuhlen this year before having to be withdrawn with an injured heel. Today's cross-country course of 32 fences will be the biggest he has tackled so far.

British dressage riders competing at the European Dressage Championships in Turin succeeded in one of their objectives by qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Games. But finishing fifth meant they failed in their other aim of collecting a medal.

The Netherlands, who won the team title, had the satisfaction of defeating the Germans, who were unbeaten since the championships began in 1965.