Equestrianism: Charles hunts on

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PETER CHARLES, winner of the 1995 individual European title for Ireland, is spending his time at the Kerrygold Dublin Horse Show looking for new show jumping mounts.

Charles, who had been an automatic choice for the Irish team at this Ballsbridge venue, is still suffering from the ankle injury sustained in a fall during the Eventing Grand Prix at Hickstead last month, when he split the sheath on his Achilles tendon.

Having arranged to be treated by an ankle specialist from a Hampshire football club, Charles is still hoping to be ready to compete for the Irish team at the European Show Jumping Championships which begin at Hickstead on 24 August, but it has become an anxious race against time for the Hampshire- based rider and the Irish selectors.

Charles aims to compete at Valkenswaard in the Netherlands next week with Traxdata Carnavelly. "If I can just get going out there, I'll be all right for the Europeans," he said.

As if the ankle injury were not enough, Charles also suffered the loss of his top horse, Traxdata Nustria, last month. The nine-year-old gelding, described by Charles as the best he has ever ridden, died from a ruptured ulcer on his spleen at the Liphook Clinic. "I'm now searching the market left, right and centre trying to put together another string of horses," Charles said.

The European Championships have a double importance for Ireland as they represent the last chance for the country's show jumping riders to qualify for next year's Olympic Games in Sydney.

Ireland have two automatic choices: Trevor Coyle on the Aachen Grand Prix winner, Cruising, and Jessica Kurten with Paavo, her victorious mount in the Queen's Cup at Hickstead last month.

Results, Digest, page 23