Equestrianism: Friend enjoys two-time victory

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The Independent Online

Ruth Friend added the British Open title to the Intermediate Championship she won here two years ago when she and Two Thyme triumphed by a 7.7pt margin yesterday. The 24-year-old Cumbrian had worked patiently towards this goal, resisting the temptation to whizz round thecountry, saving Two Thyme for this special goal.

She was in a hurry yesterday, however, when she galloped round Captain Mark Phillips's 31-fence track to retain the lead she had established with a brilliant dressage test and achieve her biggest win to date. Sammi McLeod, the second reserve for Australia's Olympic Three-Day Event team, was runner-up on Enchanted, with James Robinson in third on Comanche. Francis Whittington, a horse dentist, was the only rider to finish within the optimum time, finishing sixth on Osh Kosh.

Friend is hoping Two Thyme will have enough points for her to ride him at Burghley next month. If so, she will be up against McLeod again who is staying on to ride Enchanted at the Lincolnshire event. The field there will be strengthened by the British Olympic riders, who flew to Athens on Saturday.

Laura Fortune was another rider who achieved her goal when she rode Hallo Again to win the Intermediate Championship. She teaches riding to finance her eventing and had to rely on her mother, Sue Fortune, to keep the horse fit. Her principal victim was Oliver Smith, a 20-year-old who is hoping to be picked for this year's Young Riders European Championships.

Australia's Clayton Fredericks and Britain's Francis Whittington shared the spoils on Saturday, filling the top two places in the Novice Championship and again in the Advanced Section II.