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Novices Lead Equestrian Qualifying

June 23, 2000

GLADSTONE, N.J.(AP) _ Three riders who have never been on an Olympic team held the top three spots Friday after the third round of the U.S. show jumping trials.

The three are Margie Goldstein-Engle, of Wellington, Fla., Alison Firestone, of Upperville, Va., and Raymond Texel, of Beverly Hills, Calif.

Goldstein-Engle had two clean rounds on Hidden Creek’s Perin to her clean round on Wednesday. She is the only rider with three clear rounds.

She’s followed closely by Firestone on Jox with 4.25 faults and Texel on Pershing with 4.5 faults. Five riders are tied for fourth with 8 faults.

There will be two more rounds on Sunday at the U.S. equestrian team. The top 12 will then compete for the four team slots in five more rounds over three days the first week of August in California. Veterans traditionally rise to the occasion for Olympic team selection. But Goldstein-Engle, Firestone and Texel have many years of experience at the highest levels of their sport.

``If the people who are at the top now stay on the top we should have a great team,″ Firestone said. ``We should expect a medal.″

Wednesday’s course had only one clear round _ by Engle. There were 29 Friday over two more trials. The course was more straightforward since the horses had to go twice. Even so, 14 of the original 75 entrants had withdrawn by midday.

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