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EQUESTRIAN: Laura into Bramham lead
11:50am Friday 8th June 2012 in Equestrian
LAURA Collett delivered another outstanding dressage display that lit up the Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials in Yorkshire today.
Collett, based at Membury near Marlborough, swept past overnight CIC three-star leader Lucy Jackson by posting a score of 37.5 penalties on Rayef.
Collett and Rayef led Badminton after the opening day last year, ending with an eighth-placed finish that confirmed them as genuine challengers for Olympic selection.
Although Rayef's cross-country performances have not matched that dressage excellence on a consistent basis, Collett knows a good result at Bramham should keep her in the selectors' thoughts.
The five-strong British team for London is due to be announced next week.
William Fox-Pitt, Mary King, Piggy French and Nicola Wilson are expected to claim four of those places, but the fifth is presumed to be wide open with riders like Collett, Tina Cook, Sarah Cohen, Lucy Wiegersma and Zara Phillips all in contention.
After the cancellation of key pre-Olympic events Badminton and Chatsworth last month due to wet weather, Bramham has taken on added significance in terms of Olympic selection.
Collett, meanwhile, held an advantage of 3.6 penalties over Jackson and Animator II, with Belgium's Karin Donckers third, and Fox-Pitt (Avoca Alibi) retained his lead in the CCI three-star class.
Dressage in both sections concludes today, with cross-country and showjumping scheduled over the weekend.
And Bramham organisers are hopeful that current heavy rain will relent, although the competition's young event horse classes and stallion parade have been called off.
"We are doing everything humanly possible to keep the main eventing competitions running," a Bramham spokesperson said.
"The course going is still pretty good, and the forecasters are telling us that the weekend is looking much better. So if we can get through today, we are in for a good competition."
Fox-Pitt and Wilson both made their presence felt in the CIC three-star with impressive dressage performances.
Fox-Pitt moved second behind Collett on a score of 38.7 with Neuf des Coeurs, while Wilson recorded a 43.8 personal best dressage score on Opposition Buzz, the brilliant cross-country exponent that could be key to British Olympic hopes next month.
With Marlborough-based New Zealander Andrew Nicholson moving third aboard Avebury, it meant that Jackson found herself outside the top three.
Fox-Pitt, meanwhile, remained in charge of the CCI three-star, with none of today's starters able to threaten a lead that he established yesterday.
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