Stark in pursuit despite mistake

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David O'Connor retained his overnight lead on Custom Made during yesterday's second day of dressage at the Mitsubishi Badminton Horse Trials, but Ian Stark and Mark Todd are now within one penalty point of the leader as riders prepare for today's cross-country.

At one stage O'Connor held the top two places for the United States, before first Todd and then Stark nudged the American's second mount, Lightfoot, back to fourth. Stark might have been leading for Britain, but for a mistake in the second movement when the grey, Stanwick Ghost, broke into canter during medium trot.

"I got greedy," Stark said. "I committed the cardinal sin of asking for more when I already had enough." The Scot, so long a mainstay of the British team, was delighted with the grey thoroughbred who has the mischievous mind of a pony.

Stark is a mere 0.2pt behind the leader and just 0.6pt ahead of Todd, the double Olympic champion from New Zealand, who is now third on Bertie Blunt. Last year Todd's stirrup leather broke and he rode most of the cross-country without one iron, finishing that phase in third place before Bertie Blunt failed the final horse inspection.

"Robert and Melita Howell, who own Bertie, have bought me some new stirrup leathers that I'll be using for the cross-country," Todd said with a wry grin.

O'Connor's second mount, Lightfoot, had a more serious problem at Boekelo in the Netherlands last October, when an ambulance ran into him while he was on the cross-country course. "I figured you have the right of way when you're riding the course, I didn't expect to be flipped over by an ambulance," O'Connor said. "We were both badly bruised after that.''

MITSUBISHI BADMINTON HORSE TRIALS (Glos): Standings after dressage: 1 Custom Made (D O'Connor, US) 40.4; 2 Stanwick Ghost (I Stark, GB) 40.6; 3 Bertie Blunt (M Todd, NZ) 41.2; 4 Lightfoot (D O'Connor, US) 41.8; 5 Bounce (V Jefferis, NZ) 43.0; 6 Just Jeremy II (L Murray, GB) 43.2; 7 Broadcast News (V Latta, NZ) 44.4; 8 Star Appeal (M King, GB) 45.0; 9 Trouble Shooter (H Bell, GB) 45.4; 10 New Flavour (L Law, GB) 46.2.