Kiwi veteran Sir Mark Todd in first place after day two of prestigious Burghley Horse Trials

New Zealand are placed one and two at the end of the dressage at the Burghley Horse Trials in the UK, with Sir Mark Todd sitting in first place.

Todd, who at 62 is the oldest rider in the field, and his striking grey Kiltubrid Rhapsody scored 26.4 penalty points, with Price aboard Ringwood Sky Boy right on his heels on 26.9 at the prestigious CCI4.

For Todd, in his 39th year competing at Burghley, it was a near foot-perfect performance and a repeat of last year when he led at the end of the dressage aboard Leonidas II.

"The horse was second after the dressage at Badminton and I think he has improved since then," said Todd.

"He went out and did a very solid test today."

Kiltubrid Rhapsody, who finished sixth at Badminton this year, skipped just once in his extended trot but was otherwise very impressive.

"I am delighted to be in the front at this stage but as we all know, it is still a long way to go."

Yesterday Todd had a couple of course errors with NZB Campino - who sits in 12th place on 30.8 - and he was most determined not to make another silly mistake.

"But you can only do what you can do with a horse, and the horse tried his hardest today. He has a brilliant temperament and nothing phases him."

They have been together a couple of years now and Todd says the horse is growing in confidence and continues to improve.

"He can go into a dressage arena and just show off a little bit. He is a big impressive grey horse, he looks good and has some amazing movements. I think there is still more improvement in him to come."

The horse is a good jumper too, and Todd, a five-time Burghley winner, is looking forward to the cross country - albeit with some caution.

"We have never had so many changes of direction and there seems to be more uphill bits than other years."

With the dressage scores all so close, Todd felt it was going to be a very interesting day, on a course that would call for strong endurance and stamina from the horses.

"There is a lot of up and down hills, a lot of big jumps, big combinations and questions and it's tough from the beginning right to the end."

Tim Price, who is right behind Todd, also felt the course would be very demanding.

"I think it is bigger this year and possibility with a little less technicality in places. It keeps coming. All the way home there are big fences, whereas in the past sometimes you can get to eight or nine minutes and you just have to mind yourself coming home."

Price was rapt to be sitting in second heading into the tough course.

Ringwood Sky Boy had done a brilliant test in possibly the most atmosphere he had competed in. It was rewarding for the rider who had picked the now 15-year-old horse up for a few quid as an unruly six-year-old.

Price is also in 16th equal aboard Bango on a score of 32.1 along with Andrew Nicholson and Swallow Springs who shares the same mark. Nicholson is 29th aboard his second mount Jet Set IV on 33.8.

Caroline Powell and On the Brash sit in in 37th equal on 35.1 with Burghley débutante Ginny Thompson and Star Nouveau in 48th on 36.5 and Dan Jocelyn aboard Dassett Cool Touch in 49th equal on 36.6.

Defending champion and world number one Oliver Townend is in third and fifth places, with just four penalty points covering the top 10.


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'It's a pretty normal thing' - humble Kiwi cyclist George Bennett on viral water bottle gift moment

Kiwi cyclist George Bennett says his kind gesture for a young adoring fan, where he handed the cheering supporter his water bottle, is nothing new.

Bennett became a viral sensation despite finishing outside the top 10 at the Vuelta a Espana, when he took the time on the final stage to make one young fan's day.

After receiving applause from a young supporter, Bennett decided to give him an unexpected reward for his enthusiastic cheers during one of the event's climbs – his water bottle.

"This kid was still screaming full gas like I could win the race but I was 15 minutes behind at that stage," Bennett told Stuff.

"I've thrown a thousand bottles to kids in my career and I'll probably throw a thousand more."

The moment was caught on video and shared by the boy's family online.

The gesture has now been viewed hundreds of thousands of times with many heaping praise on Bennett for the gesture.

"This one just got caught on video and there's just something about how enthusiastic the kid was," he said.

"But it's a pretty normal thing at the end of a bike race; there's thousands of kids screaming for your bottle when you're riding to the finish.

"It's quite a cool thing because the fans are so connected to the riders, they're so close and for us it's a bottle, we go through 15-20 a day, but for them it's something pretty cool and hopefully it gets them into cycling."

Bennett may have had a disappointing finish in the Tour of Spain but he made sure he made someone else’s day. Source: 1 NEWS


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Watch: The adorable moment Kiwi cyclist George Bennett gained a young fan for life

Kiwi cyclist George Bennett may have had a disappointing finish on the Tour of Spain but a video has emerged that is sure to win him plenty of fans despite the result.

Bennett finished outside the top 10 at the Vuelta a Espana but took time on the final stage to make one young fan's day.

After receiving applause from the young supporter, Bennett decided to give him an unexpected reward for his enthusiastic cheers during one of the event's climbs – his water bottle.

The moment was caught on video and shared by the boy's family on social media.

The gesture has now been viewed hundreds of thousands of times with many heaping praise on Bennett for the gesture.

Bennett may have had a disappointing finish in the Tour of Spain but he made sure he made someone else’s day. Source: 1 NEWS


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Black Sox welcome back veterans in 25-man squad as attention turns from Europe tour to 2019 World Champs

The Black Sox have welcomed back a wealth of experience as well as another young pitching talent to their squad as they turn their attention from their Europe tour to next year's World Championships.

Coach Mark Sorenson has named a 25-man squad to attend a training camp in Palmerston North later this month.

All 17 players who were part of the successful Intercontinental Cup campaign in Prague last month have been included with veteran stars Nathan Nukunuku, Wayne Laulu, Tyrone Bartorillo, Josh Harbrow and Josh Pettett rejoining the squad as well.

The Black Sox used the trip to Europe as an opportunity to introduce six new caps while also getting a better understanding of the playing environment in Prague, where next year's World Championships are also being held.

"The 17 players who toured this year laid down a marker for what is required next year, but we are also excited about welcoming back some of our veteran players, and the competition for places that this will generate," Sorenson said.

"There are still a number of spots up for grabs in the World Cup squad and this camp represents the first step in making this team."

Sorenson has also included Wellington's Zac Boyd after his impressive showing at the Black Sox trials in February while Auckland catcher Harrison Valk has also been included following his strong performance with the Junior Black Sox at the U19 World Championships.

However a new face in the squad is Cantabrian pitcher Ben Watts.

Watts impressed at the National Open Clubs tournament earlier this year, guiding Papanui to the final before they were taken down by Nukunuku's Mount Albert Ramblers.

It's hoped Watts' selection will "bring plenty of heat to the pitching roster" and "further their depth".

The squad will assemble in Palmerston North from October 26-28.

Black Sox: Pita Rona (North Harbour), Benjamin Enoka, Campbell Enoka, Campbell Gibson, Cole Evans, Daniel Chapman, Eruera Drage, Harrison Valk, Kallan Compain, Nathan Nukunuku, Rhys Evans, Thomas Enoka, Zane Van Lieshout (Auckland), Joel Evans, Joseph Ferriso, Nikki Hayes (Hutt Valley), Jerome Raemaki, Josh Petitt, Wayne Laulu, Zac Boyd (Wellington), Ben Watts, Jackson Watt, Joshua Harbrow, Reilly Makea, Tyron Bartarillo (Canterbury).

Junior Black Sox Reilly Makea bats against Czech Republic.
Junior Black Sox Reilly Makea bats against Czech Republic. Source: Softball NZ


Watch: Aussie rookie leaves NFL commentators perplexed with use of drop kicks

An Australian kicker playing his first season in the NFL caught the attention of commentators in today's game between the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears by introducing a rugby technique to the sport.

Rookie punter Michael Dickson left ESPN commentators Joe Tessitore and Jason Witten stunned after he performed drop kick kick-offs in the Seahawks' 24-17 loss.

"A drop kick kick-off?" Tessitore asked.

"We are going to send our stat folks into overdrive here, but I'm going to put it out there.

"You tell me the last time you ever saw a drop kick kick-off in the NFL?"

"I don't know if it ever happened Joe," Witten, a star tight end for the Dallas Cowboys for 15 years, replied.

Veteran Sebastian Janikowski usually kicks off for Seattle and uses a tee but coach Pete Carroll, who is known for using non-traditional methods, gambled with Dickson's rugby method.

With 14 seconds left in the game and the Seahawks needing a touchdown to tie, the Aussie attempted a short drop kick hoping his team would recover.

They didn't and the Bears held on for the win, leaving Seattle without a win in their first two games of the new season.

"We're still a work in progress," Carroll said.

"You tell me the last time you ever saw a drop kick kick-off in the NFL?" ESPN's Joe Tessitore said. Source: SKY


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