Equestrianism: Determined Smith finishes with flourish

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The Independent Online
Robert Smith gained his first victory in the Kerrygold International Grand Prix yesterday, on the closing day of the Dublin Horse Show, having ridden with inspired determination after his defeat by 0.06sec in the same contest last year. The Briton also took the award for the leading rider of the show.

Smith's father, Harvey, had won the grand prix here on four occasions. "But then he's had more gos than me," Robert pointed out after his victory on 17-year-old Senator Tees Hanauer.

Last of four into the jump-off, Smith had watched Capt John Ledingham take the lead on Kilbaha and he knew exactly what was needed when he defeated the Irishman by 0.15sec. Third place went to Jan Tops, of the Netherlands, on Operette la Silla, with Michael Whitaker fourth after a single jump- off error on Virtual Village Absolom.

Paul Duffy's long and twisty course for the first round had proved a demanding test. "It was big and crunchy all the way round," Smith said, after Tees Hanauer gained his sixth grand prix win in little more than a year.

Di Lampard, on Abbervail Dream, and Nick Skelton, on Showtime, made single errors in the first round, both dislodging a rail on the middle element of the treble to finish eighth and 10th, respectively. Geoff Billington and It's Otto were clear until the last of the 14 fences where they made their only mistake. They also collected 0.75 of a time fault for 20th place.

Billinton was relieved to have a good round in the grand prix, since the selectors will be choosing the squad for this month's European Championships today.

Smith, already assured of a place in the squad having earned it through the new team trials, has not decided whether he will ride Tees Hanauer or Orthos in the championships.

DUBLIN HORSE SHOW: Kerrygold International Grand Prix: 1 Senator Tees Hanauer (R Smith, GB) clear, 45.12sec; 2 Kilbaha (Capt J Ledingham, Irl) clear, 45.27; 3 Operette la Silla (J Tops, Neth) clear, 49.85; 4 Virtual Village Absolom (M Whitaker, GB) 4 faults, 47.19. Kerrygold Speed Championship: 1 Flo Jo (M Hughes, Irl) 60.07sec; 2 Virtual Village Solitaire (G Billington, GB) 60.62; 3 Vink Diejasper (E van der Vleuten, Neth) 60.90; 4 Mighty Blue (R Smith, GB) 61.61. Leading International rider: R Smith (GB).