Equestrianism: Britain enjoy leap forward

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The Independent Online

The British advanced from 11th to eighth place in the team showjumping championship at the World Equestrian Games here yesterday and a similar forward move in this evening's final round of the team contest would earn them a place in the 2008 Olympic Games.

This was their aim when they arrived in Aachen to compete against 24 nations and, considering that Britain finished in 16th place at the last World Games in Spain four years ago, it was a tough target.

The Dutch held on to their overnight lead yesterday, with Ukraine moving into second place - not with a bunch of home-grown riders, but with those lured away from Germany and Belgium.

The team are now ahead of the United States and, ironically, Germany where three of them were born. Beezie Madden of the United States jumped clear yesterday to maintain her individual lead over Canada's Eric Lamaze and the Dutchman Gerco Schroder.

Britain's fortunes were improved with splendid rounds that were marred by only a single time fault from Michael Whitaker on Insultech Portofino and Nick Skelton, who had come here as reserve rider, on Russel.

Both John Whitaker on Peppermill and Tim Gredley on Omelli incurred five faults.

The top 10 nations compete in this evening's round which decides the world team championship, with the top 25 riders then going through to a two-round contest on Saturday from which the top four will qualify for Sunday's horse-swapping individual final.

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