Equestrianism: Williamson triumphs on Wicked Time

Polly Williamson held on to her overnight lead with a clear show jumping round on Wicked Time -"appropriately named because he's a character and a half," she claimed - to win the three-day event section of the Windsor International Horse Trials with 7.2 points in hand.

Polly Williamson held on to her overnight lead with a clear show jumping round on Wicked Time -"appropriately named because he's a character and a half," she claimed - to win the three-day event section of the Windsor International Horse Trials with 7.2 points in hand.

Second place went to 20-year-old Isabelle Taylor, whose eventing career might have been ended prematurely when she broke two vertebrae in her back in a fall in Belgium last year. She herself had no intentions of giving up, however, and yesterday she was clear in the show jumping with Flurry Knox V, moving up from overnight fifth to finish ahead of William Fox-Pitt on Birthday Night.

Williamson (née Lyon) had a formidable record between 1987 and 1989, winning individual and team gold medals once in the Junior European Championships and twice in the young riders equivalent - each time with Highland Road.

She had arranged to sell Wicked Time in the United States 18 months ago, purely for financial reasons, but the deal fell through after the horse bruised a sole. Luana Edge then came to her rescue by buying a half-share in the talented nine-year-old, with Jupiter Asset Management producing additional help through sponsorship. "It's through those two that the horse is still in this country," Williamson said.

Australasia won the new Team Challenge after taking an early lead in the dressage and extending it in the cross-country. Britain, in second place at both stages, then drew level with the leaders in the show jumping before the two final rounds decided the competition in Australasia's favour.

Britain would have won if Zara Phillips had not parted company with Springleaze Macaroo at the 19th of the twenty cross-country fences yesterday. The horse dropped his shoulder, leaving Phillips no chance of remaining in the saddle.

"I could have got four points," the 23-year-old Phillips said, in some frustration over her cross-country round. Instead of the four points that went to the winner of each group of four, she received just one point for being last across country.

William Fox-Pitt, had the best score for the Great Britain team of which he was captain, having been best of his group in the dressage and show jumping and second best in the cross-country. Matt Ryan made exactly the same contribution for the winning Australasian team.

The new competition appears to be here to stay, not least because the riders enjoy it so much. They managed to be seriously competitive, without ever losing their sense of fun.

* Nick Skelton confirmed his Olympic potential when he jumped a double clear round on Arko III in the Samsung Super League Nations Cup in Rome, making the major contribution to Britain's runner-up place behind the Netherlands. He is now among the favourites for individual gold in Athens.

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