Fit-again Lampard eager to impress at new show

Di Lampard will be back in action for the launch of a new international horse show, which opens its doors this morning at Great Leighs in Essex. Having been absent from competition since injuring a thigh muscle at the end of May, she now aims to prove her form to the Olympic selectors.

Di Lampard will be back in action for the launch of a new international horse show, which opens its doors this morning at Great Leighs in Essex. Having been absent from competition since injuring a thigh muscle at the end of May, she now aims to prove her form to the Olympic selectors.

Lampard, best of the British show jumping riders at the 1998 World Equestrian Games, has used cycling and daily physiotherapy sessions in a determined effort to get herself fit again. Today she joins an international gathering that includes a strong contingent from Ireland as well as most of the leading British riders, among them the Whitaker brothers.

The Horse Show, as the new fixture is called is the brainchild of John Holmes, who owns the venue. The meeting has been widely welcomed as the first new outdoor international show in Britain since Douglas Bunn opened his All-England Show Jumping Course at Hickstead in 1960.

Holmes has managed to secure an enticing reward of a new Oakley horsebox, worth £65,000, which will be claimed if the same horse and rider combination succeeds in winning both today's County Classic and Sunday's Grand Prix.

No such prizes are on offer at the Pedigree Chum Cornbury Park Horse Trials in Oxfordshire, where most of the world's leading three-day event riders will be competing over the weekend. Sunday's cross-country phase will nevertheless be crucial, with those on the British Olympic shortlist eager to impress the selectors in their last outing before the team for Sydney is announced on 3 August.

Those in contention will include the European champion, Pippa Funnell, this year's leading trio at Badminton - Mary King, Leslie Law and Rodney Powell - last year's Burghley runner-up, Karen Dixon, plus Funnell's three team-mates on the winning European Championship quartet: Ian Stark, Jeanette Brakewell and Kristina Gifford.

Mandy Stibbe, chairman of the selectors, has an unprecedented number of strong candidates from which to choose the Olympic squad. But remembering the problems of her predecessor during the build-up to the 1998 World Games, when a succession of horses were ruled out through illness or injury, she will be taking nothing for granted.

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