Equestrianism: Phillips sees Germany as major threat to Britain's title defence

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The Independent Online

Zara Phillips, in training here with the five other members of the Great Britain squad for next week's European Championships near Rome, is hoping for the team to make a good start in the dressage. "We need to stay on the tails of the Germans," she said, assuming (like everybody else) that they will be the main dangers to Britain's attempt at a seventh consecutive team victory.

Having won team and individual gold medals here in 2005 when she was riding in her first championships and therefore charting unknown territory, Phillips said that it was even more exciting to be defending her title this time – again on Toytown.

She also holds the world title and seems certain to be one of the four members of the British team when they are named on Wednesday, leaving two from Mary King, Daisy Dick, Oliver Townend, Georgie Davies and Rodney Powell, to compete as individuals.

The horses fly from Bournemouth and the riders from Stansted on Monday. Meanwhile the 22-year-old Louisa Brassey, on Bruce Rock, has emerged as the new leader of the Blenheim International Horse Trials as riders prepare to tackle today's beautifully built but tough cross-country track designed, for the first time, by Eric Winter. Her 13-year-old mount was back in action after a three-month rest to restore a torn muscle in his foreleg which was sustained at Chatsworth in May.

Brassey holds the advantage from Australia's Sam Griffiths, who had help from Britain's former Olympic dressage rider, Jennie Loriston-Clarke, before his test yesterday. Kristina Cook, a television commentator at Burghley last weekend, is lying third on the immensely promising nine-year-old, Miners Frolic.

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