Thompson goes with the flow

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The Independent Online


reports from

Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy

Lucy Thompson rode a beautifully flowing dressage test on Ginny Elliott's former mount, Welton Romance, to hold the lead for Ireland when the first phase of the European Open Three-Day Event Championships was completed here yesterday.

Mary King, part of the Frizzell-sponsored British quartet that is now in the lead for the team title, is just 0.2 points behind the leader with 36 penalties on King William.

Thompson, who rode for Britain in winning junior and young rider teams, has a long way to go before achieving the heights of Peter Charles (also born in England and now riding for Ireland) who won a European title in show jumping last Sunday. But another such victory is certainly possible if the big, brave mare finishes without jumping penalties on today's cross- country.

A young horse trod on Thompson's foot before she travelled here from her home at Four Elms in Kent. Two of her toes are broken, which made getting into her left riding boot extremely painful yesterday morning. She was wearing shoes belonging to her Irish husband, Karl, when she walked the four-mile cross-country course which incorporates some steep hills.

King and William Fox-Pitt, who rode their tests on Thursday, had the two best scores for the British team which holds an advantage of 3.4pts over France. The other two team riders produced good solid performances and finished the day with almost identical scores - 54.2 for Kristina Gifford on Midnight Blue II and 54.4 for Charlotte Bathe on The Cool Customer.

Didier Willefert, the 30-year-old French army officer who was leading on Seducteur Biolay at the end of the dressage at the Bramham Three-Day Event in June, moved into third place towards the end of yesterday's nine- hour session. This fine performance - with the same horse as at Bramham - moved France into second place, but there could be a big reshuffling of the placings by the end of the cross-country today.

EUROPEAN OPEN THREE-DAY EVENT CHAMPIONSHIPS (Pratoni del Vivaro, nr Rome, It): Standings after dressage: 1 Welton Romance (L Thompson, Irl) 35.8 penalties; 2 King William (M King, GB) 36.0; 3 Seducteur Biolay (D Willefert, Fr) 38.8; 4 Custom Made (D O'Connor, US) 42.0; 5 Fancy Hill (J Bodenmuller, Swit) 43.4; 6 Ut de Placineau (M-C Duroy, Fr) 43.8. GB: 9 Cosmopolitan II (W Fox-Pitt) 45.6; 32 Midnight Blue II (K Gifford) 54.2; 33 The Cool Customer (C Bathe) 54.4. Team Standings: 1 Great Britain 135.8 penalties; 2 France 139.2; 3 United States 143.6; 4 Germany 147.4; 5 New Zealand 152.0; 6 Ireland 153.0.

n The Swedish rider Malin Bayard followed up her Under-21 Championship success with another victory on Gemstone, in the Exhibition Cup at Wembley's Horse of the Year Show yesterday. Bayard led a 10-horse jump off with a clear round in the winning time of 45.06 sec.

The 20-year-old Malin, who returns home to Norrkoping next week following a year's training with John Whitaker, had plenty of time to spare over second-placed Red Wharf Clover Girl, ridden by Mennell Watson. Claire McAuley's Equity finished third.

Michael Whitaker was yesterday savouring Thursday's success in the prestigious Horse and Hound Foxhunter Championship. Riding the seven-year-old Everest Ashley he barely had three-tenths of a second to spare over John Renwick and Brookends Raphaels Boy.