EQUESTRIANISM Bost joins the World Cup party with a final flourish

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EQUESTRIANISM

GENEVIEVE MURPHY

reports from Paris

Roger-Yves Bost gained a last-minute ticket to the Volvo World Cup final, which starts in Gothenburg in 10 days' time, when he won yesterday's decisive qualifier at the Paris Horse Show with a flying jump-off round on Souviens Toi.

The Frenchman attacked the course with typical vigour, leaving some top- class opponents to chase his time in vain. Switzerland's Thomas Fuchs was a split-second behind to be runner-up on Major AC Folien - with the German Olympic champion, Ludger Beerbaum, close behind on Ratina. Ireland's Eddie Macken was fourth on Miss Fan.

Two Britons - Michael Whitaker on Everest Twostep and Nick Skelton on Dollar Girl - were among the 13 to reach the jump-off. Both then made a single error to finish ninth and 10th respectively. John Whitaker on Welham and James Fisher on Bowriver Queen went out with just one mistake in the opening round.

Bost, who had been lying equal 32nd in the Western European League, moved up to equal 14th on points. In the process, he has probably deprived Fisher of a ticket to Gothenburg.

The two Whitaker brothers, plus Geoff Billington and Skelton, are through to the finals. Fisher, who is first reserve, can only hope that one of those above him drops out.

There were rumours that the Swiss rider, Hansueli Sprunger, would withdraw. But, although he broke a leg at the end of February, Sprunger's compatriots said that he fully intends to compete in Gothenburg.

Yesterday's contest took place against the acrimonious background of a row over television rights between Volvo, who sponsor thwe sport to the tune of £3.5m a year, and the International Equestrian Federation [FEI]. The FEI, through its marketing consultants, World Equestrian Promotions, appears to have sold the rights to the World Cup series twice - first to a German television channel, and then to the sponsors at Volvo, who thought that they were buying them back.

PARIS HORSE SHOW (VOLVO WORLD CUP QUALIFIER): 1 Souviens Toi III (R-Y Bost, Fr) clear, 33.49sec; 2 Major AC Folien (T Fuchs, Swit) clear, 34.24; 3 Sprehe Ratina (L Beerbaum, Ger) clear, 34.67. Selected British: 9 Everest Twostep (M Whitaker) 4 faults, 35.77; 10 Everest Dollar Girl (N Skelton) 4 faults, 36.04. Western European League final standings: 1 L Beerbaum (Ger) 100pt; 2 J Topps (Neth) 90; 3 F Sloothaak (Ger) 83. British: 4 M Whitaker 82; 6 G Billington 65; 10 J Whitaker 52; 11= N Skelton 46; 21= J Fisher 37. Grand Prix de Lage Landen: 1 Rochet (A Ledermann, Fr) clear, 39.24; 2 Bowriver Queen (J Fisher, GB) clear, 41.22; 3 Urleven Pironniere (J-M Bonneau, Fr) clear, 41.75. Prix Mira: 1 Rose Princess (J Fisher, GB) clear, 51.46; 2 E.T. (H Simon, Austria) clear, 51.56; 3 Dudley (T Fuchs, Swit) clear, 52.56.

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