Beerbaum brings experience to bear

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Ludger Beerbaum, the most distinguished of the German riders competing here, was an impressive winner of yesterday's Father Christmas Stakes on the second day of the Olympia Show Jumping Championships.

Riding the nine-year-old mare, Sprehe It's Me, Beerbaum won by a margin of 0.77sec over a course that was all twists and turns. Markus Fuchs finished second for Switzerland on Adelfos, with David Bowen the best of the home riders in third place on JJ II.

Beerbaum, who was Olympic champion in 1992, is resting his top mount, Ratina. He won recent World Cup qualifiers with Ratina in Amsterdam and Berlin, but will rely on Gaylord for today's equivalent here.

Ratina, the little slip of a mare who won the World Cup last year, will attempt a repeat success in next April's final.

Whereas Beerbaum has won nine Volvo cars (and 15 vehicles overall), James Fisher has just a single Volvo on his list of winnings. That was collected on Sunday in Geneva, where Beerbaum was among those he defeated.

Fisher's good form continued when he won yesterday's Christmas Candle Stakes, a two-horse competition in which he jumped from the back of Tip Toe to Rose Princess without touching the ground. Tip Toe went on to finish fourth in the class which Beerbaum won.

Today Fisher will be on his Geneva winner, Bowriver Queen, with whom he hopes to gain more World Cup points. This 11-year-old mare has been maturing slowly but impressively, as Irish-bred horses often do. The British selectors will now be following her progress closely.

Paul Barker, the 16-year-old son of David Boston Barker (who rode for the British team in the 1964 Olympics) is another to note for a rather more distant future on the senior team.

He had two wins at this year's Horse of the Year Show and he underlined that form by finishing first and third for yesterday's Winter Wrap Young Show Jumper Award.

Barker first jumped at Olympia at the age of 11, when he partnered Geoff Billington to win the 1989 Mini-Major contest. In yesterday's class, for riders aged 21 and under, he made some talented older competitors sit up and take notice.

OLYMPIA SHOW JUMPING CHAMPIONSHIPS: Father Christmas Stakes: 1 Sprehe It's Me (L Beerbaum, Ger) clear, 50.10sec; 2 Adelfos AC Folien (M Fuchs, Swit) clear, 50.87; 3 JJ II (D Bowen, GB) clear, 52.67. Christmas Candle Stakes (two- horse competition): 1 TipToe and Rose Princess (J Fisher, GB) 75.48sec; 2 Flyinge Artist and Electro (P Eriksson, Swe) 77.55; 3 Ultimee du Chemin and Saphir (S Lauber, Swit) 80.29. Winter Wrap Young Show Jumper Award: 1 Count Bellair (P Barker) clear, 23.10sec; 2 Penny's Delight (L Murphy) clear, 27.22; 3 Sasage (P Barker) 4 faults, 25.13.

BRITISH EQUESTRIAN WRITERS' AWARDS: Personality of the Year: K Dixon. Outstanding Young Rider: T Boon. Major contribution to Equestrian Sport: G Watson.