Equestrianism: Godignon revels in speed test

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HERVE GODIGNON completed a French double when he rode a whirlwind round on the stallion, Quidam de Revel, to win last night's Modern Security Christmas Cracker Stakes on the opening day of the Olympia Show Jumping Championships.

John Whitaker, however, came close to trumping the French ace. Riding everyone's favourite horse, Everest Milton, the Briton was being noisily cheered home to a split-second victory when a pole rolled off the final fence to leave him out of the money.

Michael Whitaker was fastest of all on Midnight Madness, but he also had a fence down, leaving Tina Cassan as runner-up on Genesis. Another young Briton, Paul Sutton, filled third place with a good clear round on Wessex Zakatak.

Michael Whitaker had earlier celebrated the first day of his new Everest sponsorship with an assured victory on Monsanta, the 18-year-old veteran who he rode to win the derbies at Hickstead and Millstreet this year.

Monsanta had been rested since the latter success in Ireland on 1 November and he looked in fine fettle as he raced to a split-second victory in the Christmas Stocking Stakes. Whitaker defeated James Fisher on Monterrey and his elder brother, John (also sporting a brand new Everest jacket) on Fonda.

Michael Whitaker will be using Midnight Madness as his top horse this week, leaving Monsanta to contest the smaller classes. Next year, Monsanta will be aimed at derbies while Midnight Madness will take over for the majors including (if Whitaker qualifies) the Volvo World Cup final in Gothenburg next April.

Volvo's commitment to equestrianism, at present at least pounds 2m a year, has been extended to 1998. A new five- year contract for the World Cup will begin after the April final.

OLYMPIA SHOW JUMPING CHAMPIONSHIPS: Modern Security Christmas Turkey Stakes: 1 Akai Quidam de Revel (H Godignon, Fra) clear, 33.88sec; 2 Genesis (T Cassan, GB) clear, 37.06; 3 Wessex Zakatak (P Sutton, GB) clear, 38.61. Christmas Stocking Stakes: 1 Everest Monsanta (M Whitaker, GB) 36.86sec; 2 Monterrey (J Fisher, GB) 37.22; 3 Everest Fonda (J Whitaker, GB) 37.37. Christmas Cracker Stakes: 1 Raspail (R-Y Bost, Fr) 45.32sec; 2 Everest Major Wager (N Skelton, GB) 45.73; 3 Everest Grannusch (J Whitaker, GB) 45.97. British Equestrian Writers' Personality of the Year: P Nolan. Vivien Bachelor Trophy (Young Rider of the Year): A Davies.

(Photograph omitted)