Fox-Pitt lands historic double on Moon Man

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The Independent Online

William Fox-Pitt achieved a unique double yesterday when he became the first rider to win both the British Open and the Intermediate Championship in the same year. "I was only just ahead both times, so I've had a lucky weekend," the 31-year-old said.

William Fox-Pitt achieved a unique double yesterday when he became the first rider to win both the British Open and the Intermediate Championship in the same year. "I was only just ahead both times, so I've had a lucky weekend," the 31-year-old said.

Fox-Pitt rode Moon Man, formerly one of the horses in an Irish trekking centre, when repeating the 1995 British Open victory which he had achieved with Chaka. This time he defeated Christopher Bartle on the 1998 Badminton winner, Word Perfect II, and Karen Dixon on last year's Burghley runner-up, Too Smart.

Moon Man was disappointing when running out of steam at Badminton in May - as the result, Fox-Pitt discovered later, of contracting a lung infection. "We got to the second last fence and were up on the clock when I had to pull up - until then I was hoping that he might have been on the plane for Sydney," Fox-Pitt said.

The British Open provided another milestone in the remarkable progress of Vere Phillipps, who started the year as a novice rider. In partnership with Coral Cove - the former mount of his late wife, Polly - Phillipps finished fourth, having attained one of the two joint fastest times across country.

Dixon (third on Too Smart) and Kristina Gifford (13th on The Gangster II) were the only two of the eight-rider British Olympic squad who rode their prospective Sydney mounts across country yesterday.

If Dixon is included in the Olympic team - or selected as one of the three riders for the separate individual contest - she will be all out to win a medal. "My son, Rory, is only 17 months and it will be quite tough to leave him for four weeks," Dixon said. "That will give me an extra drive, I'm certainly not going to Sydney to have a jolly."

Too Smart will be among the Sydney-bound horses who go into quarantine today at Waresley, near Sandy in Bedfordshire, where Eddy and Mandy Stibbe have an impressive establishment. Word Perfect, who is on the reserve list, will also be there in case extra horses are required due to injury.

Ian Stark, the only rider to be listed for the British squad with two horses - Jaybee and Arakai - had an adventurous ride yesterday to finish 14th on the less-experienced Rangitoto in the British Open.

"He took off a stride too soon at the second Arena Table and we were completely wrong for all three corners at the Land Rover Folly, but he still managed to climb over them," Stark said of the grey gelding. "At least we now know that he is brave and clever."

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