Equestrianism: Fire One speeds home

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The Independent Online
GEOFF LUCKETT followed up his success on Friday, on Everest Vantage, with a sizzling performance on Everest Fire One here yesterday.

They were repeating their win last year in the Speed Classic. It took just 79.10 seconds to land the pounds 1,000 prize. 'Fire One loves Hickstead,' said Luckett, 35. 'He's 18 now but still very sharp. I only bring him here and Wembley.'

Although giving full credit to his horse, Luckett deserves his share. The pair set off with resolve, treating the twists and turns, banks and dips like a speedway track and knocking 9.46sec off the leader Andrew Saywell, on Almare, who finished in fourth place.

Only John Whitaker got close. Clear in 81.87sec on Everest Roddy's Revenge, he looked deceptively unhurried, proving yet again that tight accurate turns can beat galloping fast. John Renwick and the spring-heeled Clover sped round at the expense of one mistake which left them third, but one of the best came from Anneli Drummond-Hay, who finished fifth on Quattro.

Based in South Africa since winning the Badminton three-day event on Merely-a-Monarch 30 years ago, and the Queen Elizabeth II Cup on the same horse in 1970, she has returned to England to prepare for the World Championships in The Hague next month. Yesterday she displayed all the old dash. Today she will challenge again for the Ladies championship, the Queen's Cup, on her best horse, Olympian.

In the same event, Kelly Brown, of Britain, hopes to strengthen her claim to the fourth place on the team for The Hague, alongside the probables, John and Michael Whitaker and Nick Skelton.

The Whitaker brothers, riding Everest Gammon and Everest Limited Edition, are vying for favouritism in today's feature event, The Redland Roof Tiles Championship for the King George Gold Cup, before travelling on to Luxembourg with Skelton, Brown, Geoff Billington, John Popely and William Funnell.

The last needs to convince the selectors that his disappointing showing on Komex this weekend in Holland, where the British team finished ninth behind Germany, was just a blip. He too is fighting for his place in The Hague.

Martin Lucas teamed up with Senator Lannegan, previously a prolific winner for David Broome, and registered his first win to date, defeating five rivals in the jump-off for the Redland Roof Tiles Sussex Stakes. After Kelly Brown on Alfreda, John Whitaker on Everest Hopscotch and Germany's Jurgen Kraus on Pikora all made single errors, Robert Smith opted for a slow clear on Silver Dust. Lucas clearly benefited from Broome's advice and made good turns to better this, throwing down a challenge to Marie Edgar on Everest Winstar who just failed by .30sec.

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