Equestrianism: Phillips shines on Toytown as she bids to keep eventing title

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The Independent Online

Zara Phillips made a polished start in her attempt to retain her European title on Toytown in the dressage phase of the European Three-Day Event Championships yesterday.

She incurred 29.8 penalty points and now lies third, just 2.7 behind the leader, Germany's Bettina Hoy on Ringwood Cockatoo, with Frenchman Nicolas Touzaint on Galan de Sauvagère in second place.

The Germans also hold the advantage for the team title (even though Hoy was riding as an individual and her score did not count) with the British in second place as they bid to extend their record to seven consecutive victories.

Phillips, who had concentrated on keeping Toytown relaxed before he went into the arena, found the horse's couple of strides of canter when he should have been trotting "a bit annoying". But as Yogi Breisner, the Great Britain team manager, said: "Zara nursed Toytown through that bit and then she got better and better; she did a fantastic job."

The queen's 26-year-old grand-daughter said: "I enjoy the dressage when Toytown's working with me." Today's cross-country is expected to be a serious test of stamina because of the hilly course, but Phillips will have feedback from team-mates – Daisy Dick, lying 12th, and Oliver Townend, who is 14th – before she tackles the 28 fences.