Sheffield has master-plan for Catch the Tiger

John-Paul Sheffield on Catch the Tiger held a two-point advantage over the overnight leaders, William Fox-Pitt and Stunning, when the first full day of dressage at the Blenheim Petplan International Horse Trials was completed yesterday.

John-Paul Sheffield on Catch the Tiger held a two-point advantage over the overnight leaders, William Fox-Pitt and Stunning, when the first full day of dressage at the Blenheim Petplan International Horse Trials was completed yesterday.

Sheffield reckons that the nine-year-old grey is just as good as his former mount, Mr Smiffy, with whom Andrew Nicholson won at Burghley last weekend. "We're aiming Catch the Tiger for Burghley next year, where hopefully he can take Mr Smiffy's crown," Sheffield said.

According to Nicholson, Sheffield had put in some excellent work on Mr Smiffy before he left Kenneth Clawson's yard last November to set up on his own and so lost the ride. The work was certainly needed, since Mr Smiffy bolted with Sheffield at their first event together at Bicton.

"He took off before the third fence and we must have gone round the field five times before I could pull him up," Sheffield said. "I then jumped two more fences and he did the same thing again."

Sheffield, the 26-year-old son of a window cleaner, was in the lead on Catch the Tiger at the end of the dressage phase of the Windsor Horse Trials in May - only to hear that the event had been abandoned because of torrential rain. The nine-year-old grey has since jumped double clear rounds at Breda in the Netherlands and in advanced sections at two British events, Cornbury and Gatcombe.

Fox-Pitt was a winner at Cornbury on Stunning, having taken some time to establish a rapport with this sensitive horse after taking him over from Todd. That first success for the partnership was followed by two others - at Brockenhurst Park and Highclere - which must be a good morale- booster for Fox-Pitt who rides his other horse, Tamarillo, in the dressage today.

Had things gone to plan for Kelli McMullen-Temple, the Canadian rider would have been at Sydney instead of Blenheim, where she is now lying in third place on Kilkenny. She had to cancel the trip to the Olympic Games when her horse was found to have an abscess in a hind foot.

BLENHEIM PETPLAN INTERNATIONAL HORSE TRIALS (Woodstock): Interim dressage results: 1 Catch the Tiger (JP Sheffield, GB) 45.0; 2 Stunning (W Fox-Pitt, GB) 47.0; 3 Kilkenny (K McMullen-Temple, Can) 48.2; 4 Flying Hector (N Fox, GB) 53.0; 5 Lambourne's Midas Touch (A Bettle, GB) 53.2; 6 Brilliante (I Johansson, Ger) 53.4.

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