Equestrianism: Rider's death in fall casts shadow over Burghley

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The Independent Online

The death of 42-year-old Caroline Pratt, who died as the result of injuries sustained in a horrific fall on Saturday, cast an inevitable shadow over the Burghley Horse Trials yesterday.

The death of 42-year-old Caroline Pratt, who died as the result of injuries sustained in a horrific fall on Saturday, cast an inevitable shadow over the Burghley Horse Trials yesterday and the second victory in the Lincolnshire event for Australia's Andrew Hoy, who last won here 25 years ago. A scheduled parade of British Olympic medallists was cancelled; instead riders came into the arena unmounted to join in a one-minute silence for their deceased friend who died after her mount, Primitive Streak, turned a somersault into water at the 26th of 28 fences and landed on top of her.

The long cross-country course had turned into a serious test of stamina because of the heat and the soft ground, which had become tacky as the hot sun continued to dry it out. But, unlike other horses who were obviously tired, Primitive Streak had appeared to be full of running before his fall.

Hoy's early round on Moon Fleet proved to be the closest to the optimum time, giving him the overnight lead, but he had a fraught time in the show jumping before the £30,000 first prize was secure. Moon Fleet could afford two show jumping errors when Hoy rode him into the arena yesterday. That was soon reduced to one when he clobbered the first fence and to zero when he lowered the 10th obstacle.

A single time penalty would have left Hoy below Britain's Marie-Louise Thomas, who finished just 0.2pt behind him after another inspired cross-country round on The Psephologist, with whom she was third at Badminton. New Zealand's Andrew Nicholson on Lord Killinghurst and Andrew Hoy on his second mount, Master Monarch, were close behind in third and fourth places.

Thomas and Nicholson had been held on the cross-country course for about 45 minutes on Saturday after Pratt's accident.

"Unfortunately, I knew what had gone on and that made it harder," Thomas said. Neither felt that the fall had been caused because Primitive Streak had tired towards the end of the course. "Caroline was a very experienced and responsible rider, who would have known if her horse was tired," Nicholson said.

Britain's individual Olympic gold medallist, Leslie Law, who had to nurse a tired Shear H20 home at the end of the cross-country, finished in fifth place. He was best of the British Olympic team, William Fox-Pitt having had a single refusal in an otherwise excellent cross-country round on Ballincoola to finish 11th, and Pippa Funnell having retired Cornerman half-way round the course.

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