Equestrianism: Dumbledore works the oracle

William Fox-Pitt and Mr Dumbledore ended the first day of dressage at the Bramham International Horse Trials with a familiar advantage. "He's led after the dressage in all his events this year," Fox-Pitt said of the nine-year-old, who was second at Burgie last year and is now contesting his first three-day event at three-star level.

Matt Ryan, Australia's quadruple Olympic gold medallist, had enjoyed a short-lived lead on Slight of Hand before Mr Dumbledore, who was next into the arena, went ahead by a convincing 7pts. Lucy Wiegersma, who had held a long lead on Quite Nice, is in third place - 2.6pts behind Ryan.

Fox-Pitt, who will become the first rider to compete here with three horses, is lying 11th on Birthday Night and will be last into the dressage today on Idalgo. All three of his mounts are at the learning stage at this level, so the rider remains cautious about their chances as they prepare for tomorrow's cross-country.

This is also a first three-star contest for Ryan's mount, Slight of Hand, who was originally bought as a riding horse for his owner, Anne Pople, who works for Ryan. She had some lessons with him and, on the advice of her instructor who judged the horse to be too talented to be confined to hacking, she decided to send him eventing. Ryan already regards the compact chestnut gelding as a prospective mount for next year's World Equestrian Games.

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