Equestrianism: Hoy back on top as dispute carries on

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The Independent Online

Andrew Hoy, whose bid to gain his fifth Olympic medal ended with a fall in Athens, made a satisfactory start to the Burghley Horse Trials by holding the lead on Moon Fleet after yesterday's first day of dressage. The Australian has the advantage over Polly Stockton on Tangle Man and Leslie Law on Shear H20.

Meanwhile, the controversy over Hoy's German wife, Bettina, who lost individual and team gold medals through having crossed the start line twice in the final show-jumping at Athens, was still rumbling on. Captain Mark Phillips, the team manager for the United States, was prompted to issue a statement yesterday as the result of comments made by Bettina in the German press.

Phillips was particularly incensed by the suggestion (which he totally refutes) that he had influenced the decision of the French, British and American Federations to take the dispute to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, whose ruling robbed the Germans of the gold medals they had already received.

According to Phillips, the decision was taken out of the hands of the team managers and dealt with by the Olympic committees of all three nations.

The Hoys, who are based at Gatcombe, are long-standing friends of Phillips, which makes the present disagreement all the more painful. Andrew has since had a long discussion with Phillips, but his wife has not spoken to him since Athens.

Bettina has already handed back the individual gold medal she brought home from Athens but Leslie Law, who heard that he had moved up a place to become the Olympic champion when Britain's team manager, Yogi Breisner, called him on his mobile phone, is still waiting to receive his gold. Shear H20, with whom Law is lying a close third here, is a full brother to his Olympic mount, Shear l'Eau.

Following a request from his local radio station, BBC Hereford and Worcester, Law has supplied a bag of Shear l'Eau's droppings to be auctioned for charity on the eBay website. "I thought it was someone like Rodney Powell winding me up at first, so I didn't take it too seriously," Law said. With the latest bid standing at £750, somebody's roses are going to be fed by seriously expensive horse manure.

Burghley Horse Trials (Stamford, Lincs): Standings after first day of dressage: 1 Moon Fleet (A Hoy, Aus) 44.4 penalties; 2 Tangle Man (P Stockton, GB) 44.8; 3 Shear H20 (L Law, GB) 46.0; 4 Foreign Exchange (T Boon, GB) 44.8; 5 Enchanted (S McLeod, Aus) 47.0; 6 Volnay (C Clague-Reading, GB) 48.6.