Equestrianism: Bowman's clear head wins silver: World Games

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GEORGE BOWMAN, of Britain, received the individual silver medal for four-in-hand driving yesterday on the closing day of the World Equestrian Games. He finished only 3.8 penalties behind the German winner, Michael Freund, who had held the lead after Saturday's marathon.

Yesterday's obstacle driving between cones required immense skill. Had he made a single error, Bowman would have dropped out of the medals. But he did not feel under any great pressure. 'After 22 years and 11 world championships, you don't get too wound up,' he said.

Bowman was clear and so was Freund, who would have lost the gold medal had his vehicle toppled a cone. Ijsbrand Chardon, who was here to defend his world title, finished third for the Netherlands.

There was no Briton involved in the four-rider final of the individual show jumping championship, in which Franke Sloothaak took the world title for Germany. Michael Whitaker, the only British rider to be in the top 20 after Thursday's two-round contest, had 12.5 faults with Everest Midnight Madness in Saturday evening's first round, which meant that he could pack up and go home.

Sloothaak became the champion after jumping clear rounds on his own and his three opponents' horses. There was a widespread belief that he had earned his first major title by Saturday evening, when he held the lead on San Patrignano Weihaiwej.

The controversial formula, which required the top four to compete in a final horse-swapping contest, is a big crowd-puller. There were three Germans in contention (Sloothaak, Soren von Ronne and the Olympic champion, Ludger Beerbaum) and one Frenchman (Michel Robert).

For the first time, all four were riding mares. Beerbaum's mount, Almox Ratina, proved the best of them by jumping four clear rounds within the time. But Sloothaak's blue-eyed chestnut, Weihaiwej, was not far behind with just 0.5 of a time fault when ridden by Robert.

The Frenchman lost the world title by that time fault, which must have been galling. Von Ronne took the bronze medal, having incurred four faults with his own mount, Taggi. Beerbaum, whose Ratina had jumped clear for everyone, finished without a medal. He had four faults on Taggi and eight on Robert's Miss San Patrignano.

The result was a great boost for San Patrignano, the drug rehabilitation centre in Italy, which owns the mares that Sloothaak and Robert rode. 'I hope we have helped these boys in the centre and given them something special in their lives,' Sloothaak said.

Results, Sporting Digest, page 31