Owl Creek benefits from long build-up

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The Independent Online
Katie Meacham rode Owl Creek for almost three hours before yesterday's dressage test and it proved an effective ploy, since her 11-year-old horse now holds the lead in the Blenheim Vauxhall Monterey International Horse Trials.

Meacham, who represented Britain in the 1991 European Championships, knew that Owl Creek could get tense in the dressage and she was glad the extra work had made him more relaxed.

The rearranged programme means that the horse will have two days to recover from yesterday's exertions and prepare for the cross-country, which now takes place on Sunday.

Meacham holds a 2.8pt advantage over Nicky McDonnell on William Hill, who moved into second place towards the end of the day. Until Meacham and McDonnell appeared on the scene, Sarah Bullen had held the lead for more than six hours on Double Trust.

In common with most of the other riders, both Meacham and Bullen were pleased to find Mike Etherington-Smith, the course designer here and at the Sydney Olympics in the year 2000, has built a more attacking and less technical cross-country course than last year. They are also delighted that the going is just about perfect.

Results, Digest, page 27