Beerbaum edges out Whitaker

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Ludger Beerbaum rode Sprehe Gaylord to a wonderfully swift clear round in last night's Grand Prix, depriving John Whitaker of victory in the closing session of the Olympia Show Jumping Championships.

Beerbaum, the German Olympic champion, had been runner-up in Saturday's Volvo World Cup qualifier. Last night he was intent on victory and his mount, whose courage was once suspect, gave a generous response. Whitaker went in hot pursuit on Everest Grannusch, but failed by just 0.83sec to catch the German. Jan Tops filled third place on Sonora la Silla, the mare he rode to win the World Cup contest on Saturday.

Beerbaum, who was leading rider of the show, could not have been more pleased had he won another Olympic gold medal. This was his first major victory with Gaylord, who he began riding in June. " At the beginning I didn't think I could get him on my side,but he was fantastic today," Beerbaum said.

John Whitaker was the only British rider through to the Grand Prix jump-off. Four other Britons were among those in equal seventh with a single error: James Fisher on Bowriver Queen, Michael Whitaker on Everest Twostep, Alison Bradley on Endeavour and DiLampard on Abbervail Dream.

Markus Fuchs, from Switzerland, had twice been runner-up at the Olympia Show Jumping Championships before landing a convincing double yesterday. His second victory, in the Christmas Eve Speed Stakes, was achieved with Interpane Shandor who is his all-time favourite horse.

Yesterday's victory was far removed from Shandor's finest hours (he was in three European Championships and two Olympic teams) but the 15-year-old did all that was needed when defeating Peter Charles, on Cantadou for Ireland, and the German Olympic champion, Ludger Beerbaum, on Sprehe Casanova.

The most worrying round for Fuchs, as he waited by the ringside, was jumped by John Whitaker. The British rider would have won but for incurring the four-second penalty for lowering the second-last fence on his new mount, Keeley Durham's most impressive performer, Everest Welham.

Fuchs had won the earlier Brandy Butter Six Bar when jumping five clear rounds on Adelfos AC Folien. He defeated the 20-year-old Briton, Guy Goosen, who went with the Swiss rider to the fifth round, but then had two fences down on Tinto.

OLYMPIA SHOW JUMPING CHAMPIONSHIPS: Christmas Eve Speed Stakes: 1 Interpane Shandor (M Fuchs, Swit) 49.36sec; 2 Cantadou (P Charles, Ire) 49.92; 3 Sprehe Casanova (L Beerbaum, Ger) 50.40. Brandy Butter Six Bar: 1 Adelfos AC Folien (M Fuchs, Swit) clear in 4th jump-off; 2 Tinto (G Goosen, GB) 8 faults in 4th jump-off; 3 Corona (G Billington, GB) 4 faults in 3rd jump-off. Olympia Grand Prix: 1 Sprehe Gaylord (L Beerbaum, Ger) clear, 34.50sec; 2 Everest Grannusch (J Whitaker, GB) clear, 35.33; 3 Sonora la Silla (J Tops, Neth) clear, 35.79.