MacDonald-Hall's top-class double

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The Independent Online
Anni MacDonald-Hall looks all set for a return to the British team after filling the top two places, on Invincible and Intrepid, in yesterday's Prix St Georges at the British National Dressage Championships at Addington, writes Genevieve Murphy. Both are six-year-old Dutch-bred horses, whose wonderful presence and movement could take them right to the top.

MacDonald-Hall had the desperate misfortune to lose her two top horses through colic in 1992. Since then she has been bringing on young horses and she has made a fine job of it with the help of her Dutch trainer, Bert Rutten.

It has not all been plain- sailing. Anyone who falls off a horse at Rutten's yard is expected to buy cakes all round and MacDonald-Hall reckons that the tradition has cost her a small fortune.

However, starting from scratch is now paying dividends. Both horses are expected to start grand prix contests next year - in good time to be considered for the 1998 World Equestrian Games in Ireland.

Further encouragement for the future of British dressage came from Ferdi Eilberg, who won the Medium Championship on the lovely mare, Broadstone Warianka, and Carl Hester, who took the Advanced Medium on Donnersong. Hester is arguably the best dressage rider in the country.

In terms of presence and power, Donnersong is the best horse he has ridden since Giorgione, with whom he managed a 16th place finish at the 1992 Olympics.

This six-year-old stallion, was a thoroughly recalcitrant youngster, but yesterday his natural exuberance was contained. "This was only his fifth show and he'd never seen flags or pots of flowers around an arena before, but he was really good," Hester said.

Donnersong will start competing in grands prix in 1998 and Hester is determined to be in the team for the Sydney Olympics in the year 2000 "come what may". On yesterday's showing, it could well be the best British dressage team ever seen.

BRITISH NATIONAL DRESSAGE CHAMPIONSHIPS (Addington, Bucks): Prix St Georges: 1 Invincible (A MacDonald-Hall) 69.81 per cent; 2 Intrepid (A MacDonald-Hall) 67.07 per cent; 3 Keystone Favoriet (S Davies) 66.09 per cent. Medium Championship: 1 Broadstone Warianka (F Eilberg) 70.0 per cent; 2 Brazil (S Pflueger) 69.19 per cent; 3 Azar (C Hester) 68.92 per cent. Intermediaire I: 1 Keystone Favoriet (S Davies) 67.13 per cent; 2 Barrollo (D Hogg) 66.82 per cent; 3 Legal Democrat (C Hester) 66.15 per cent. Advanced Medium: 1 Donnersong (C Hester) 69.71 per cent; 2 Rony (P Hutton) 68.82 per cent; 3 Fernando (H Esberger) 66.88 per cent.