Stunning finish as Fox-Pitt takes top two places

William Fox-Pitt completed two polished clear rounds in yesterday's final show-jumping phase of the Blenheim Petplan International Horse Trials to fill the top two places, with 14-year-old Stunning finishing just 0.4 of a penalty ahead of his stable-companion, the eight-year-old Tamarillo.

William Fox-Pitt completed two polished clear rounds in yesterday's final show-jumping phase of the Blenheim Petplan International Horse Trials to fill the top two places, with 14-year-old Stunning finishing just 0.4 of a penalty ahead of his stable-companion, the eight-year-old Tamarillo.

Stunning, formerly partnered by Mark Todd, had disappointed at the sport's top four-star level, which was why the horse had been moved down to Blenheim's less demanding three-star contest. "He enjoyed it here, he's done his best from the time he arrived," Fox-Pitt said.

Tamarillo would, however, have been the winner if he had not gone slower towards the end of Saturday's cross-country. According to Fox-Pitt, the going in the woods had then become boggy. "[Because of that] I eased him off there and let him go at his own speed," he said. Mary Guinness' horse collected 2.4 time penalties as a result, allowing Stunning to move ahead.

Fox-Pitt, who also won three-day events at Blarney and Compiegne this year, regards Tamarillo as a bright hope for the future.

"He's a quality horse and he finds it easy. I have to keep on my toes, because he has a brain like a cat and is always one step ahead of me."

Lucinda Fredericks, riding the little Rumpy Pumpy, moved up from sixth overnight to finish third after a clear show jumping round. Inken Johannsen from Germany also advanced - from seventh to fourth - after jumping clear on the 13-year-old mare Brilliante, with whom she won two consecutive Young Riders' European Championships in 1995 and 1996.

Nick Skelton will have to wear a neck brace for six to eight weeks, following a fall at a Cheshire show on Saturday in which he broke a vertebra in his neck. Skelton was competing on Lalique when the horse stopped abruptly at a fence, throwing the rider.

"At first we thought he had broken his neck," said Carole Jackson of Wirral Borough Council, one of the event's sponsors. The 42-year-old, who represented Britain in the last three Olympic Games but is not in the squad for Sydney, is expected to make a full recovery.

BLENHEIM PETPLAN INTERNATIONAL HORSE TRIALS (Woodstock, Oxon): 1 Stunning (W Fox-Pitt, GB) 47.0 penalties; 2 Tamarillo (W Fox-Pitt, GB) 47.4; 3 Rumpy Pumpy (L Fredericks, Aus) 53.6; 4 Brilliante ( I Johannsen, Ger) 55.4; 5 Sam the Man (B Battenberg, Ger) 56.2; 6 Pembridge Minstrel (I Wills, GB) 57.0; 7 Catch the Tiger (JP Sheffield, GB) 57.2; 8 Toucan (G Parsonage, GB) 57.8; 9 Highpoint (P Tapner, Aus) 58.8; 10 A Touch of Frost (L Henson, GB) 60.4.

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