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Australian Rider Ranks 1st at Day1 Equestrian Events
    2008-08-10 04:57:58     Xinhua
First-day event of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Equestrian Events ended at the Shatin venue in Hong Kong Saturday evening with Australian and Belgium riders ranked first and second respectively in the dressage session.

Since French rider Nicolas Touzaint, gold medalist of eventing team in the 2004 Games, withdrew from the competition due to injury of his horse, 44 riders took part in the individual eventing dressage.

Touzaint was No. 3 in the latest individual eventing rankings compiled by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) and two-times winner of European championship.

The 41-year-old Australian rider Lucinda Fredericks provisionally came first with 30.4 penalties after the first-day event.

Fredericks, ranked No. 77 on the latest FEI individual eventing rankings, was much satisfied with her horse -- Headley Britannia's performance, saying that "she's such a horse that you can trust completely."

Karin Donckers, 37, from Belgium who ranked world No. 12 by April was at the second place, with 31.7 penalty marks.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist from New Zealand Mark Todd returned for his sixth Olympics after eight years' retirement strengthens the chances of the five-man New Zealand squad in the medal race. This made him under the spotlight of the Games.

"I really could not have hoped to have done anything better than that at this stage of career. I am delighted with it," Todd told reporters after completing his round of action.

New Zealand rider Andrew Nicholson, who ranked world No. one by April, scored 44.60 penalties and came 12th on the first day result.

"My expectation is very high," said Nicholson, who got bronze and silver respectively in eventing team in 1996 and 1992 Olympic Games, "I expect to do very well. I expect to give 110 percent effort," he added.

Another eye-catching rider Alex Hua Tian, who became the first Chinese rider ever to compete in Olympic equestrian events, and contributed a key part to China's attending all the 28 major sport categories, too.

The 18-year-old talent is the Eton College student, he was the youngest FEI (International Equestrian Federation)-registered rider to have gone through the four-star level.

More than 200 athletes from 42 countries and regions will compete for six team and individual gold medals in the 11-day events.
 
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