Equestrianism: Corten sees clearly to hold off pack

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Stefan Corten threw down the gauntlet in dramatic style on the closing day of the Horse of the Year Show here at Wembley Arena when he rode Helada to a deceptively fast clear round to win yesterday's Speed Horse of the Year title.

The Belgian had been first of 24 to jump and, when Helada slipped and almost fell after the second last fence, he was fairly sure that he would be beaten. But, though the slip must have cost him a valuable second, Corten's opponents chased his time in vain. Robert Smith - riding the former Foxhunter champion, Valentino - came closest, finishing just 0.03sec behind the winner in second place.

Other stirring attempts were made by Francois Mathy on Shurlands Governor and Michael Whitaker on Virtual Village Elton, who finished third and fourth. Whitaker was urged on with screams and shouts over the last three fences but he could not catch the winner.

This was Corten's first visit to Wembley and he would like to return. His hopes have more chance of being realised after the announcement that the show had attracted 21,000 spectators and proved itself viable. Next year is its 50th anniversary.

Earlier, the Christy Championship, for the Leading Junior Show Jumper of the Year title, was won by a remarkable 10-year-old pony mare, Colton Maelstrom 51 ridden by Sammy Pharo.

The mare had twice won the individual gold medal at the European Pony Championships for Ireland's Emma Wilson before Pharo's grandfather bought the pony for her to ride a year ago. Pharo collected a team gold medal herself in the equivalent contest this year.