Hay-Smith makes handy start

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The Independent Online
Equestrianism

Frances Hay-Smith held the lead on Jabba the Hutt after yesterday's first day of dressage at the Burghley Three-Day Event, in which she was seventh (and best British rider) two years ago, writes Genevieve Murphy.

The 15-year-old gelding, who was side-lined during 1994, having failed the first horse inspection at Badminton in the spring before pulling a back muscle in the autumn, produced a relaxed and obedient dressage test. Hay-Smith has been using Jonjo O'Neill's gallops at Penrith to get her horse fit for tomorrow's cross-country. At present she holds a 5.2-point advantage over Kristina Gifford on General Jock and Ian Stark on Mr Mackinnon, who are equal second.

Stark's bay partner, still only an eight-year-old, is regarded as a good prospect for next year's Olympic Games. Because of the horse's youth, it would make sense for Stark to aim for a steady clear round over the cross-country - but it remains to be seen whether the Scot can restrain his competitive instincts.

Another Olympic prospect -Terry Boon's mount, Vital Decision - made an ignominious exit from the competition yesterday when he was eliminated in the dressage. It was Boon's 22nd birthday, but there were no treats from the horse.

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