O'Connor has the edge on his rivals

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David O'Connor and the eight-year-old, Giltedge, held a substantial 5.8 points advantage when the dressage phase of the Blenheim International Three-Day Event ended yesterday, writes Genevieve Murphy from Blenheim.

The United States rider has never competed at Blenheim before, but he was here last year as a spectator. He bought the big Irish thoroughbred, Giltedge, on that occasion - as well as Custom Made, who will be his partner for the European Open Three-Day Event Championships which begin in Italy on 28 September.

Alice Plunkett, the leader here on Thursday on her mother's Frostbite, is now joint second with Kerry Millikin, of the United States, on Out and About. Matt Ryan, Australia's Olympic champion, is equal fourth with Pippa Funnell on the little skewbald, Bits and Pieces.

They could all find O'Connor hard to catch, since the American intends to take all the fast routes over the cross-country course of 28 fences, even though he has twice fallen with Giltedge.