Equestrianism: Dutch win at last

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THE IRISH NATIONS Cup, which dates back to 1926, resulted in victory for the Netherlands yesterday at the Kerrygold Dublin Horse Show. The Dutch had been last of six in the inaugural contest and were runners- up for the past two years, before finally receiving the Aga Khan Challenge Trophy for their first win.

Considering that Jan Tops is the only member of yesterday's winning quartet who is likely to be on the European Championship team, the Dutch did extraordinarily well to defeat the joint runners-up from Great Britain and Ireland.

The French, who had four of their best riders here, had looked the likely victors after clear opening rounds from all four members of the team. But they fell by the wayside in the second round to finish fifth.

Britain had been off to a good start when Nick Skelton jumped the first of two clear rounds on Hopes Are High. Michael Whitaker then had two errors on Virtual Village Ashley (who "felt a bit rusty" after just over a month's lay-off) before Di Lampard had three fences down with Abbervail Dream. John Whitaker, the last to go, kept Britain in the hunt with a clear round on Flower.

The first three Britons - Skelton, Michael Whitaker and Lampard - reappeared to jump clear second rounds. "I was absolutely distraught after the first round: the horse wouldn't settle," Lampard said. "He was more like the one we know the second time."

The Irish had two double-clear rounds - from Marion Hughes on Heritage Charlton and Trevor Coyle on the fabulous stallion, Cruising, with whom he won the Aachen Grand Prix. Other double clears were achieved by Lynne Little for the United States on Pialotta and Ben Schroder for the winning Dutch team on Agrovorm's Athletico.

Results, Digest, page 23