Equestrianism: Clover quick to impress

ROBERT SMITH gave Britain an opening-day victory at the Pavarotti International Horse Show here when he rode Clover to victory in the Speed Class yesterday.

Smith's attacking round on this nippy chestnut horse left him half a second ahead of the Italian, Filippo Moyersoen, on Dugano, with John Whitaker a close third on Henderson Fonda. Clover had won two classes in France last weekend, but the horse is a speed specialist and is therefore not included in Britain's Nations Cup team today.

Ronnie Massarella, the team manager, has chosen Nick Skelton to go first on Everest Limited Edition, who finished third in yesterday's Power and Speed - less than a second behind the Swiss, Willi Melliger, on Quinta C. Skelton will be followed by Michael Whitaker, on Henderson Monsanta, David Broome, on Ancit Countryman, and John Whitaker, on Milton.

Both Monsanta (sixth in the Power and Speed) and Countryman (who was given a sedate school in the Speed Class) jumped clear yesterday. Milton, also out for some quiet exercise, had a single irrelevant error.

Last year rain caused problems at the inaugural Pavarotti event, and conditions were far from ideal yesterday inside the spacious arena. Broome said it was 'like jumping on an apple pie, the horses' feet go through the crust'.

Riders had thought that designer Olaf Petersen had built too small a course for the Power and Speed. 'He told us that he had done so deliberately because he was worried about the going,' Broome said. 'And he was dead right'.

Hopes of improved going disappeared during another heavy downpour yesterday. Riders came in for the Power and Speed prizegiving in waterproofs, with rugs draped over most of their horses. Luciano Pavarotti, wisely, opted to stay in the stands.