EQUESTRIANISM: Funnell's clear victory

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WILLIAM FUNNELL and Barry Bug achieved their biggest joint victory when completing the only clear round of an eight-horse jump-off to win last night's Traxdata Leading Show Jumper of the Year title at The Horse of the Year Show. Barry Bug is owned by John Whitaker's wife, Clare, and used to be ridden by her daughter, Louise.

The contest's sponsors had been at the ringside giving enthusiastic support to their own team of riders, among them Ireland's Peter Charles who had looked like giving them the result they wanted until Traxdata Carnavelly had a single refusal to finish runner-up. Third place went to the consistent Dutchman, Roelof Bril with the fastest four-fault round on Bollvorm's Burggravin.

Harry Marshall, from Ireland, succeeded in what then seemed the difficult feat of keeping John Whitaker at bay - albeit by only 0.62sec - when he won the Radio 5 Live Trophy on the phenomenally fast Cruiseline. The nine- year-old mare is the first foal of the stallion, Cruising, who will be ridden by Trevor Coyle at the World Equestrian Games which will be officially opened in Rome next Wednesday.

John Whitaker had earlier increased his family's large slice of the prize fund when he rode Virtual Village Welham to win the Horseware Rambo Cup. The Whitaker tally now stands at six victories: two for John, one for his daughter, Louise, and three for his brother, Michael.

Welham, an 18-year-old who had also won here on Thursday, was (according to his rider) "enjoying himself and pleased to be back". The gelding has shown no sign of being rusty after his nine-month lay-off with a leg injury - much as it might have been welcomed by Belgium's Dominique Hendrickx, who had held the lead until Whitaker, who was last of 14 into the jump- off, took it from him.

Nick Skelton was going for broke on Zalza - and about to record a seemingly unbeatable time - when the chestnut ran out at the final fence. Would Skelton have won otherwise? Not necessarily according to Whitaker, because he would then have been looking to go much faster.

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