Equestrianism: Hoy relieved following doctor's all-clear

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Bettina Hoy spent an anxious hour or so at the Festival of British Eventing yesterday before she heard that she will be allowed to continue in the first advanced section of the meeting in which she held the lead after the dressage on Woodsides Ashby.

The German rider had been unconscious for more than four minutes after a fall at Lulworth Castle in Dorset last weekend, which normally means that the rider cannot compete for the next 21 days.

Hoy had, however, undergone a thorough examination in Hamburg last Tuesday by Dr Vogel, a highly respected neurologist. He had supplied a health certificate which stated that she was, in his opinion, fit to ride again.

This conflicted with the view of Dr Jeremy Moore, the doctor at Lulworth, who believed that any slight knock could cause Hoy serious damage.

"I've been told that they might pull me out and I'm not happy about it," Hoy said, before she was given the go-ahead. "I went to Hamburg because I wanted to know that everything was all right. I told the specialist that I wanted to ride at Gatcombe if he felt I was ready and he said that I was."

Sir William Aldous, the official steward here, eventually managed to contact Peter Whitehead, the British eventing chief medical officer.

"He decided that we should accept the opinion of the eminent neurologist in Germany and Bettina will be allowed to ride," Sir Aldous said. "That opinion stated: 'There is no hint of damage to the brain and no consequence for patient post-injury if she rides and competes this week.'"

So Hoy and the lovely grey horse, who invariably leads after the dressage phase, will be tackling the cross-country course today.

They hold an advantage of 2.3pts over Francis Whittington, the Sussex horse dentist who was third in the Eventing Grand Prix at Hickstead last Saturday. New Zealand's Blyth Tait, the former world and Olympic champion, is lying third on Rock It.

Doubleprint Festival Of British Eventing (Gatcombe Park): Leading standings after dressage: 1 Woodsides Ashby (B Hoy, Ger) 27.7pens; 2 Osh Kosh (F Whittington, GB) 30.0; 3 Rock It (B Tait, NZ) 32.3; 4 Ashdale Davids Way (C Rawson, US) 32.3; 5= Sky Sport (L Maynard, GB); 5= Headwind (K Cook, GB) 32.9; 7 Toytown (Z Phillips, GB) 33.1; 8 Viceroy II (P Funnell, GB) 33.8.