King makes it four victories in four weeks

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Mary King's roll of honour had yet another entry added yesterday, when she won the Blenheim Vauxhall Monterey International Horse Trials on the eight-year-old King Solomon III. King has now won two three-day events (Burghley and Blenheim) and two championships (Scottish and British) in the short space of four weeks.

Luck was certainly with her for yesterday's victory. On Saturday, she had come close to being unseated at the first cross-country fence, when Solomon stood off so far he landed on the sloping flower bed in front of the obstacle before scrambling over it.

Yesterday she was given some breathing space when Christopher Bartle, lying second overnight on Word Perfect II, had two fences down - and when Andrew Nicholson on Dawdle incurred 0.75pts on time.

This meant Solomon could make an error without King relinquishing the lead. After rolling a pole off the ninth obstacle, the horse gave the 11th a good clout but the fence remained intact.

Nicholson, who had finished one place behind King in two of her other three recent successes, instantly realised that his 0.75 time penalty had handed her another great chance. King, unaware of it, thought that the commentator had made a mistake when he announced that she was the winner by just 0.15sec.

Nicholson and Bartle were two of the four riders to finish within the optimum time over the cross-country course. Karen Dixon, sixth on Hot Property, was another inside the time.

Mike Etherington-Smith, director and course designer of the event, will be reviewing the experimental formula whereby cross-country was run in the reverse order of merit. Few regarded it as a success, because there was far too long a wait before the best horses appeared.

Results, Digest, page 19