Equestrianism: Germans share first after feat at wall

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The Independent Online
Two German riders - Ludger Beerbaum on Alex H and Rene Tebbel on Renometto - cleared the wall at a daunting 7ft 2in to share first place in last night's UPS Christmas Puissance on the second day of the Olympia Show Jumping Championships. They achieved this feat in the fifth round of the contest, which has to be the last effort under modern puissance rules.

Ireland's Peter Charles, the puissance winner in Dublin this year on T'Aime, came close to sharing in the victory for the horse looked like clearing the massive wall until dropping a hind foot on it.

Michael Whitaker, riding a horse with the unwieldy name of Virtual Village Azur de Saint Gatien, was clear for the first three rounds but then carved a big hole through the wall and fell on the landing side, finishing fourth.

Beerbaum said that his mount, who is normally ridden by Norway's Geir Gulliksen, has "won every kind of class which exists". Tebbel's partner, Renometto is proving himself as a wonderful puissance horse having won four such contests with the German rider in the last six months.

Earlier Xavier Caumont exceeded his own expectations when winning the Christmas Cracker Stakes on Baladine du Mesnil. The 42-year-old Frenchman, who had never competed here before, only gained his place in the line- up for the London show after winning the Volvo World Cup qualifier in Seville 11 days ago.

Since the French trainer, Patrick Caron, had only sent Caumont to Seville so that he could gain some experience, this month has been an exciting time for the hitherto unknown rider.

Caumont, the second of only two into the timed jump-off, had his task made a great deal easier when Beerbaum (the European champion and dual Olympic gold medallist) had two fences down on Sprehe Rush On. The Frenchman was in no hurry wjen jumping a lovely clear round on the eight-year-old chestnut mare whom he owns jointly with Etienne Poillon.

Until this year Caumont has concentrated on educating young horses and selling them on. But Baladine du Mesnil, who moved into his stables in the South West of France when she was only six months old, is not for sale despite some good offers. The impressive mare is now being aimed at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

William Fox-Pitt was at Olympia to collect the British Equestrian Writers Association Trophy. Having been part of the winning British team - and third individually - in the European Open Three-Day Event Championships, he came top of the poll for the Equestrian Personality of the Year.