HIGHWORH'S Paul Tapner and top ride Inonothing continued their return to form with second place at the first three-star international in Britain this year at Belton Park in Lincolnshire.

Inonothing, who won the Badminton three-day event title in 2010 but suffered an injury that autumn that took him out of the sport for over a year, was only pipped by Leicestershire’s Sarah Cohen and Treason.

The horse, who is aiming to return to Badminton this May, was 28th after dressage but a faultless show jumping round and one of the quickest cross country sections took them right up the board.

“Inonothing was really back in the game at Belton – he jumped a great double clear,” said Australian Tapner, who is aiming for a 2012 Olympic team place.

“I’d taken him on the gallops a few days before and he was so badly behaved, so full of himself that, you’d have thought he was a three year old rather than 16. I think he’s pretty keen to get back to Badminton.”

Tapner also secured 12th spot on another advanced horse, Kilronan, his first major run of the year.

“It was smiles all round with both horses,” Tapner added. “Kilronan coped very well with his first big run and got a dressage score of 49 – a lot better than his last mark at three star level of 59.”

Membury’s Laura Collett claimed sixth on Noble Bestman – on the wait list for Badminton – with a promising double clear. “Noble Bestman did a great dressage test and jumping rounds – just some time penalties cross country saw us finish sixth,” she said.

“It was a perfect prep round for Badminton although there are still nine above us on the wait list.”

Collett led the competition after dressage on Rayef, only for a hiccup on the cross country course to put paid to her chances.

“Henry (Rayef’s stable name) did the most amazing dressage test although there is still work to do ahead of Badminton,” added the 22 year old former Junior and European three-day event champion.

“He felt awesome cross country, back to how he felt at Badminton last year but sadly I made a mistake at the brush fence out of the water and we had a run out.

“I was so cross with myself but that’s eventing and he felt fab for the rest of the round.”

She intends to take both horses to the Weston Park event in Shropshire later this month, where they are likely to just do the dressage and show jumping phases, before heading to Badminton next month.

Marlborough-based New Zealander Andrew Nicholson was in form in the star-studded Advanced sections, winning one on Avebury by a clear six marks, with an impressive dressage score of 25.9, and finishing fourth in the other on Shady Grey.

Both horses are entered at Badminton, along with another of Andrew’s rides Mr Cruise Control who finished fifth at Belton, and it will be tough to narrow it down to the two he is allowed to ride.

Tytherton Lucas former Blenheim and Barbury Castle winner Chris King saw off six time Burghley three-day event winner William Fox-Pitt in a strong Open Intermediate section on the 11 year old bay GI Master Caster, fourth in the Hartpury CCI** international last summer.

“It was worth the five hour drive to get there,” said Chris.

“GI Master Caster did a good dressage test to score 31.8 and then jumped a double clear to finish on that score. I was over the moon with him.”

King was also sixth in another OI section on The Secret Weapon, who added just a few cross country time penalties to his dressage score.

LOWER Stanton St Quinton’s Kitty King saw off a world-class field when she won the CIC** (two star one day international) title at the Somerley Park event in Hampshire.

The 29 year old left New Zealand and Australian greats Mark Todd and Andrew Hoy – winner of five Olympic gold medals between them – behind her riding the ultra-consistent mare Zidante.

The eight year old ended 2011 with victory in the World Young Horse SevenYear Old Championship in France and rarely finishes out of the prize money.

This time he led from start to finish, completing on an excellent dressage score of 36.7, the only horse in the section to keep a clean score sheet and leaving Todd more than 10 marks behind.

“Zidante is a very trainable horse with nice paces, who does an accurate test that judges tend to like,” said King.

“She’s a bouncing ball of energy when jumping and really loves her cross country. She’s always looking for the next fence with her ears pricked.”

The Dutch-bred eight year old is likely to be aimed at the Blenheim three-day event’s young horse section at Woodstock later in the season.

Hoy, the triple Olympic gold medallist now riding from a yard at Badbury, was third on Cheeky Calimbo.

Foxham’s Georgie Spence filled fourth with Ricoshea, with one show jump down also costing the new pairing a place.

The ten year old is a new ride for Georgie this year – last season he was with Cheshire international Michael Owen – and this was an excellent start to their international career together.

“Rico was fantastic in dressage and scored 48.9,” she said. “He had just one down show jumping due to being a bit unbalanced on the corner before the fence.

“He flew round the cross country though, taking all the straight routes and adding just 3.2 time faults to his score. It was a fantastic result.”

Lucinda Fredericks and Coral Keen both scored novice wins at the venue.

Fredericks, the Little Cheverell based Olympian, topped her section by nearly seven marks on Rovello II.

Keen, also based at Little Cheverell, left Fox-Pitt close to four marks behind in her section riding Wellshead Fare Opposition, a winner at Wilton last year.

EVENTING action now switches to Knighton Down near Amesbury, where the Larkhill BE (British Eventing) one day event takes place this weekend (April 6-7).

Tapner is among the entries in the Novice sections with his up and coming rides, along with Lacock junior international David Doel, who already has two wins under his belt this season.

Other local riders among the entries are Lici Hawker, Helen Cole, Roo Fox and Danielle Dunn.

The event includes a Bedmax Racing to Eventing Series class, open to ex-racehorses, and has sections from BE90 to Novice.

It takes place in the centre of Larkhill Camp, with good going likely on the well-drained chalk of Salisbury Plain, three and a half miles north west of Amesbury.