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Fox-Pitt leads at Bramham

William Fox-Pitt and Moon Man lead after the first day of dressage at the Guardian Collections Bramham International Horse Trials, holding a commanding advantage of 15 marks over their nearest rivals.

William has enjoyed a fantastic season so far, winning Badminton and Saumur three-day events and gaining a place in the Olympic team for Athens. Moon Man, 13, is the most successful horse in the field — highlights of his career include a third place at the Kentucky CCI**** and team gold in Punchestown in 2003 — and this was reflected in his dressage mark of 41.4.

“He’s a very experienced horse,” said William, “and fully deserved his mark. This is the first time we’ve done the new three-star test and the trotwork is difficult. Moon Man’s trot isn’t flamboyant, but he was very good today.”

Moon Man’s last big outing was at Badminton, where he went very well until running out of steam at the end of the course in very testing conditions. Saturday’s cross-country should provide him with a confidence boost before another four-star outing.

William’s Olympic teammate Jeanette Brakewell lies second with 55.8pen on Highland Spirit. Fourth at Blair Castle CCI*** last year, Jeanette and the 10-year-old Highland Spirit performed a flowing, accurate test, slightly marred by an early spook that meant the horse took time to settle.

“It’s always difficult riding a new test for the first time,” said Jeanette, “but it’s a nice test — I like all the lateral work!

A mark behind in third is New Zealander Caroline Powell riding Ballycathro on 56.6, with Andrea Morris and Street Party in fourth place on 57.2. David Gatherer is in fifth riding Aerodynamic II on 57.4, but would have been higher if it were not for a memory lapse. Laura Fortune, Marie Ryan and Camilla Shepherd all share sixth place on 57.8.

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