Equestrianism: Moon Man narrowly stays ahead of the field

William Fox-Pitt and 13-year-old Moon Man retained the lead that they had established on Thursday's first day of dressage at the Guardian Collections Bramham International Horse Trials, but they had a greatly reduced advantage by the time the dressage phase was completed yesterday.

William Fox-Pitt and 13-year-old Moon Man retained the lead that they had established on Thursday's first day of dressage at the Guardian Collections Bramham International Horse Trials, but they had a greatly reduced advantage by the time the dressage phase was completed yesterday.

Terry Boon, riding Foreign Exchange, is now just 0.2pt behind Fox-Pitt, with Lucy Wiegersma 3.8pts further back on Friday Feeling. Jeanette Brakewell, lying second on Thursday evening with Highland Spirit, is now down to eighth place.

Last year Fox-Pitt filled the top two places at the Yorkshire event and, with his other mount, Parkmore Ed, now lying fifth, he could do so again. Philip Adkins, of the United States, who owns Parkmore Ed, has ambitious plans since he is aiming to ride the horse himself for the US team that contests the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen.

Today's cross-country will therefore be of particular interest to him since it will be the first time that Parkmore Ed has tackled a three-star course.

Though he is only a whisker behind the leader, Terry Boon is by no means certain that he will ride Foreign Exchange across country today because of the firm going. He may decide to do so, however, after course designer Sue Benson and her team have been at work on the turf.

They intend to use an Agri-vator machine that uses spikes to rotovate the ground without uprooting the grass. It was employed with great effect at Gatcombe last year. According to Benson, there is no point in using the machine too soon because the good effects will be lost by spectators walking on the ground.

"We'll work until midnight and start again at dawn," she said yesterday.

Boon's mount is back in action after an 18-month lay-off. The extended holiday began when the horse had a leg problem and continued when Boon broke his own foot last year. Foreign Exchange celebrated his return to competition by winning at Belton and Withington Manor, the only two events he has contested so far this year.

GUARDIAN COLLECTIONS BRAMHAM INTERNATIONAL HORSE TRIALS (near Wetherby, Yorks): Standings after dressage: Senior Three-Day Event: 1 Moon Man (W Fox-Pitt) 41.4 penalties; 2 Foreign Exchange (T Boon) 41.6; 3 Friday Feeling (L Wiegersma) 45.4; 4 Sparrow Hall (M Ryan) 47.6; 5 Parkmore Ed (W Fox-Pitt) 49.4; 6 Arch Rival II (K Cook) 49.6. Elite Colleges Under-25 Championship: 1 Which Way II (P French) 44.2; 2 The Magic Moment (O Smith) 49.6; 3= Volnay (C Clague Reading) and Harlequin Bay (O Townend) 50.8.

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