Darragh's clear win

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The Independent Online
Paul Darragh jumped two clear rounds on the mare Scandal to lead Ireland to success in the Nations Cup at the Kerrygold Dublin Horse Show yesterday while Britain, the joint leaders after the first round, trailed into fifth place.

Ireland, who received the Aga Khan Trophy from their president Mary Robinson, claimed the victory without Eddie Macken having to jump a single fence. Like Ireland, Britain had three clear circuits in the first round, from Nick Skelton on Virtual Village Showtime, Geoff Billington on It's Otto and Robert Smith on Senator Tees Hanauer, with John Whitaker thus not required to jump Grannusch in the first round.

But drama followed, with the elimination of Billington, who was the best of the British contingent when sixth at last year's Olympic Games in Atlanta. His problems began at the fourth fence, a treble, where It's Otto refused at the final element and sent poles flying in all directions. It took five minutes for the fence to be rebuilt.

Billington's day went from bad to worse when he fell from the horse after the final fence. The judges decreed that he had fallen before going through the finish, and therefore was eliminated. After Showtime and Hanauer had made single errors, Whitaker could have retrieved the situation with a clear round on Grannusch, forcing a jump-off with Ireland - but he dropped two fences to leave the team in fifth.

The Netherlands moved up from fifth to be runners-up after three faultless second rounds. Eric van der Vleuten was the only Dutchman to emulate Darragh's performance of two clear circuits.

Van der Vleuten's team-mates Jan Tops, on Operette la Silla, and Piet Raymakers, partnering the leading horse in the 1992 Olympics, Jewel's Classic Touch, were faultless at their second attempts.

Results, Digest, page 27