Equestrianism: King aims for fourth win prior to Athens

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The Independent Online

Mary King, the reserve rider for Britain's Olympic three-day event team, will be aiming to win her fourth British Open Championship when she rides 10-year-old Sky Sport at the Festival of British Eventing which begins today at Gatcombe Park.

Unlike the five members of the British team who fly to Athens tomorrow, King will not make the journey until Tuesday. "That's a tiny perk for being reserve rider, it means I can compete at Gatcombe," she said.

When she arrives in Greece, King will be staying in the British Olympic Association lodge waiting for a call that may not come. "Naturally I'll be hoping to get on the team, but I'll have mixed feelings," she said. "I'd only get a place if somebody else had a misfortune and you can't wish for that." If she and King Solomon III are not required in Athens, they will compete at Burghley in early September.

The British Olympic horses fly to Athens today, with the riders following tomorrow. But all five of those chosen for the United States team will be at Gatcombe to take a limited part in the second advanced section, doing the dressage today and the show jumping tomorrow before retiring prior to the cross-country.

Blyth Tait, the dual world champion from New Zealand, will make a brief appearance on his probable Athens mount, Ready Teddy, in the dressage phase of the British Open tomorrow. He will return from Athens to compete at Burghley before he moves permanently to his farm in New Zealand.

Andrew Nicholson, also on the New Zealand team, has five horses entered for the festival. Three are in the British Open - Fenicio and Lord Killinghurst (both possible Olympic mounts) and Flush Bunker, second in an advanced section last year.

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