King acquires useful edge

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The Independent Online


reports from Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy

Mary King held a useful six-point advantage on King William when yesterday's first day of dressage ended in bright sunshine at the European Open Three- day Event Championships.

The handsome bay gelding has been known to get completely overwrought but Charlie Lane, the British chef d'equipe, had rightly anticipated that there would not be too much bustle around the dressage arena when King William did his test yesterday morning. The horse was therefore able to show his wonderful paces with telling effect.

David O'Connor holds second place for the United States on Custom Made, closely followed by Sweden's 23-year-old Linda Algotsson, on Lafayette, and Britain's William Fox-Pitt, on Cosmopolitan II. Tomorrow's cross-country will be the toughest test so far for Fox-Pitt's eight-year-old partner, who won this year's Bramham Three-Day Event.

"I'll be taking a couple of the softer options, for the sake of the team as well as the horse," Fox-Pitt said. Cosmopolitan is, however, nippy enough to take the longer routes without wasting too much time.

O'Connor is not planning to take any slow routes on Custom Made with whom he won an advanced class at Gatcombe Park this year. He is well aware the steep terrain will test his horse. "We'll need to have enough gas left to go up the last hill," he said.

Nigel Taylor, riding as an individual for Britain, is in 13th place on The Frenchman II.

n Michael Whitaker took the Horse and Hound Foxhunter Championship in the Horse of the Year Show at Wembley last night. Whitaker, a member of Britain's silver medal winning team in last week's European Championships, rode Everest Ashley to his first victory of the week and an pounds 850 prize.