Husband and wife head Chatsworth's international field
Bakewell, Derbyshire, England
Overseas riders gave the home side a run for their money at recently Chatsworth SsangYong International Horse Trials, taking all the main classes on Sunday and squeezing the Brits into the minor placings.
Clayton Fredericks, from Perth, Western Australia, and his English-born wife Lucinda became the first married couple to finish first and second in a World Cup Eventing qualifier.
The hot favourite was Britain's leading rider William Fox-Pitt on Moon Man, but the experienced pair took a shock tumble over the second fence and were eliminated from the competition, in which 10 nations were represented.
After the dressage and cross-country phases, Mrs Fredericks riding the mare Headley Britannia held a narrow lead going into the show jumping finale but two rails down allowed her husband, who is the 2005 World Cup champion, to squeak ahead on the Irish-bred horse Ben Along Time.
Lucinda took her demotion in good part. "I just hope this means that Clayton will be selected for the Australian team at this year's World Equestrian Games [at Aachen, in August] - especially as that will leave the way clear for me to go and win the World Cup final!"
New Zealander Andrew Nicholson was easily fastest across country and won the prize from local sponsors TPA Trax Portable Access for finishing nearest the optimum time, while Britain's Lucy Holliday was presented with an IPOD from Sheffield architects Bond Bryan as best under-25 rider.
The other two international classes went abroad too: to Bill Levett, another Australian, and Germany's Bettina Hoy, who won last year's World Cup qualifier at Chatsworth, while New Zealander Andrew Nicholson took the advanced section.
Around 400 horses competed during the weekend and British riders Jeanette Brakewell from Uttoxeter, Polly Stockton (Malpas, Cheshire) and William Fox-Pitt (Dorset) got their own back with wins in Saturday's novice sections.
The Duke of Devonshire's beautiful park at Chatsworth looked its best and the unseasonal misty, chilly weather failed to dampen the spirits of an enthusiastic crowd.
Most popular attraction was Chariots of Fire, which featured Amanda Savile's fire-jumping driving ponies. Among Amanda's human volunteer obstacles were the Duchess of Devonshire and former British Olympic riders Lucinda Green and Ian Stark.
Next year's Chatsworth International Horse Trials take place on the same weekend, May 12-13, 2007.
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