Powell aims high with Apollo

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Rodney Powell will be riding the immensely promising Cambrai Apollo in the international section of the Brittany Ferries Three-Day Event, which begins today in Windsor Great Park. The seven-year-old bears a close resemblance to The Irishman II, with whom Powell won at Badminton in 1991.

Although sad to miss this year's Badminton because his horse had knocked himself, Powell is delighted with his one-day event record this season, having been placed in every contest with eight different horses. He was also happy to sign a one-year sponsorship contract with Eltec Development this week.

Cambrai Apollo, who won at Tidworth last Wednesday, needs to complete the Windsor event in order to qualify for Blenheim in September. He would have earned his qualification at Le Lion d'Angers last year, but for jumping a cross-country fence in the wrong direction, which meant elimination.

Several top riders have withdrawn from Windsor. Britain's Kristina Gifford and William Fox-Pitt dropped out because of problems with their horses. Blyth Tait, of New Zealand, who was confident that Windriver would be among the starters two days ago, had to pull out yesterday because the horse is lame.

It has been a frustrating year for Tait, who had to miss Badminton earlier this month when his possible Olympic partner, Aspyring, broke a pedal bone in his foot, which means he will be out of action for a year. The New Zealander has yet to have his first three-day event run of the year.

The Windsor cross-country course is much the same as last year, when riders inspected the fences but never had the chance to jump them. Fifteen hours of continuous rain meant that the event had to be cancelled on the morning it was due to start.